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BCC, NRZ top officials arrested over graft

BCC Director of Housing and Community Services, Dictor Khumalo (centre) and NRZ Acting Finance Director Mthandazo Mlotshwa (left) being escorted to court by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Officers (Zacc) at the Bulawayo Magistrates Courts housed at Tredgold Building yesterday. (Picture by Nkosizile Ndlovu)

Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has arrested top officials from the Bulawayo City Council and National Railways of Zimbabwe as the anti-graft body finally corners the alleged corrupt officials at the two companies after weeks of investigations.

Zacc on Friday arrested council Director of Housing and Community Services, Dictor Khumalo and NRZ acting finance director, Mthandazo Mlotshwa. The duo separately appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Miss Nomagugu Maphosa yesterday facing charges of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Miss Maphosa remanded Khumalo out of custody on $10 000 bail under stringent conditions which include that he surrenders his passport, resides at his given address and to report every Monday and Friday at Bulawayo Central Police Station. He will next appear in court on 29 October for commencement of trial. Khumalo was represented by Mr Prince Butshe Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers.

In the case of Mlotshwa, the magistrate remanded him out of custody on $10 000 bail and was also instructed to reside at his given address and report twice a week- Monday and Friday — at Bulawayo Central Police Station. He will appear next in court on 2 November for routine remand hearing. He was represented by Mr Privilege Sibanda of Dube-Tachiona and Tsvangirai Legal Practitioners.

Prosecuting, Mr Darlington Dhliwayo, said in the case of Khumalo, he was arrested over his alleged role in recommending that Rehabilitation and Prevention of Tuberculosis (RAPT) get a rental reduction for its council rented Mpopoma premises while at the same time sub-letting the property and demanding rentals in foreign currency from the tenant.

A couple of months ago, the organisation wrote to the local authority requesting a 50 percent write-off of its arrears amounting to $84 369 noting that they were struggling to pay off the debt as well as service the community due to lack of donor funding.

“Sometime in June 2019 the accused received a request from RAPT seeking permission to sublet five of the 13 buildings at the said council property to Kei Laboratories, reduction of rental fees from $250 to $200 and an application for an option to purchase the said property which was under lease. The accused then wrote a report to BCC recommending that RAPT be granted its request but did not disclose that RAPT had breached a prior existing contract through subletting the said property where Kei Laboratories was paying US$900 monthly rentals to RAPT,” reads the State outline.

It is alleged that by the omission, Khumalo acted contrary to his duty as a public officer thereby showing favour to RAPT and disfavour to Kei Laboratories. In the case involving Mlotshwa, the court seeks to prove that he disregarded procurement processes as set by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act in the purchasing of a laptop meant to replace his official one which was allegedly stolen. He is alleged to have taken US$1 725 from the company’s finance department which he then used to purchase a laptop, accessories and a backpack from South Africa without following the proper procurement procedures.

“Accused collected cash amounting to US$1 725 from the NRZ finance department, a department he was heading, for the purchase of the laptop under the pretext that all due procurement process had been followed.

On 7 November 2018, the accused proceeded to South Africa where he purchased an HP envy laptop valued at ZAR19 737. The accused also purchased laptop accessories valued at ZAR520 and a backpack valued at ZAR1 225,” reads the State outline.

Zacc investigators have been in Bulawayo since last month investigating alleged cases of corruption at BCC and NRZ.

Although only two people have been arrested, sources said a number of officials especially in the council housing department have been quizzed by the investigators and once the investigations have been completed more arrests would be made.

At NRZ, most of the alleged corruption cases border around the procurement processes, a majority that are said to have been flawed.