Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Harare Mayor Mafume arrested for attempting to bribe a witness in corruption case

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Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume was arrested yesterday on allegations of trying to bribe a potential key State witness in his forthcoming trial on corruption-related charges, barely six days after being granted bail by the High Court and a few hours after sailing through a routine remand.

The High Court granted Mafume $30 000 bail under strict conditions, which included not interfering with State witnesses.

He is facing charges of abusing his office by arranging the allocation of council stands to his sister and his law firm’s secretary, although neither was on the waiting list or was in line for such an allocation.

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The mayor was arrested by the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) working together with the Police Anti-Corruption Unit. SACU head Mr Tabani Mpofu confirmed the arrest.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said details would be given in due course.

“It is correct that Mafume was arrested by the Police Anti-Corruption Unit working with SACU on allegations of bribing a witness,” he said.

Details of who he allegedly approached and what inducement was offered were not given by either spokesman.

Mafume had appealed to the High Court after Deputy Chief Magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande denied him bail on his initial remand.

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Justice Benjamin Chikowero allowed the appeal by Mafume and released him on $30 000 bail plus the normal conditions of not interfering with witnesses.

Mafume is being charged with criminal abuse of office for allegedly allocating Westlea stands on council land to his sister Rotina Mafume and his law firm’s secretary Rutendo Muvuti without following the correct council processes.

In denying Mafume bail, the remand court had ruled that it was in the best interest of justice to keep Mafume in custody to allow police to conclude their investigations without interference, though it had been established that four witnesses had already had their statements recorded.

Allegations are that in March this year, Mafume allegedly called Housing Director Admore Nhekairo and asked him to allocate residential stands to his sister Rotina and to Muvuti.

Mafume is alleged to have told Nhekairo that his sister deserved to get the stands since she had not benefited from any council stand.

The court heard that when Mafume approached Nhekairo, council had already concluded interviews for stand allocations. Further allegations are that Mafume used his influence as a councillor to push other council employees to process the allocation of the stands.

According to the State, it was later discovered that Rotina and Muvuti had not been on the waiting list, and were given waiting list numbers belonging to other people. The stands had an intrinsic value of $219 938.

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Earlier in the day yesterday, Mafume appeared before Mrs Makwande for routine remand, and his next hearing date was set for January 28 next year.

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