By Fidelis Munyoro
Businessman Farai Jere, who is facing charges of fraudulently winning a tender to supply Zesa meters worth US$3 million, has now appealed to the High Court for bail.
Jere, who is being charged along with two Zesa employees – Leonard Chisina and Freeman Chikonzo – were last week refused bail by the Harare magistrates’ court.
Through his lawyer, Mr Tinofara Kudakwashe Hove, Jere filed the High Court appeal last Friday. Mr Hove said yesterday he strongly feels his client has prospects of success on appeal.
“We filed the appeal on Friday and we are now waiting for the matter to be set down for hearing anytime this week,” said Mr Hove, who trying to get the date for the hearing yesterday.
The Magistrates’ Court denied Jere and his co-accused bail on the grounds that they were a flight risk and may be tempted to abscond trial in view of the gravity of the alleged crime and the amount involved.
The State alleges that Jere misrepresented to Zesa’s distribution subsidiary, ZETDC, that his meter supplier — Secure Meters Private Limited — had a manufacturing plant for smart meters in the United Kingdom, yet there was none. Zesa wanted to inspect the factory where the meters were made.
On 24 November 2018, Chisina and two fellow engineers, Mapipi and Tshuma, all from ZETDC, and a representative from Zesa’s IT department, named Chikonzo, accompanied Jere to Britain to carry out the factory acceptance test.
While there, Jere took the engineers to a warehouse instead of a factory. The factory acceptance test was supposed to be done where the meters were made and as a result, Jere’s company did not meet the requirement set for a supplier.
It is reported that the meters that the engineers tested had a base current of 10 amperes and maximum current of 100 amperes. The meters that were tested were connected to a laptop using a cable and the head end system failed.
Jere allegedly produced a fake factory acceptance test visit report to the effect that the smart meters and head end system met the standards required by ZETDC.
He asked the four ZETDC employees to concur. Chisina and Chikonzo obliged while Mapipi and Tshuma expressed reservations on the signing of the document as no factory acceptance test had been done.
The court heard that Jere asked Chisina, the team leader, to speak to engineers Mapipi and Tshuma, to sign the report and fumed that there was no way he could sponsor the engineers’ trip from Zimbabwe to UK for them to refuse to sign the report.
As a result, they signed the document under duress.
Jere then arranged a shipment of the smart meters, which were delivered to ZETDC and a payment of US$3 566 878 was made.
ZETDC management then asked the delegation that accompanied Jere to the UK to complete questionnaires on what they observed during the factory acceptance test.
Chisina and Chikonzo indicated on the questionnaires that the required standards were met. The other two employees, however, submitted that there was no factory test done as required.
In January this year, the power utility’s loss control manager, Rodrick Chikwira, was assigned to carry out investigations together with an external consultant and they both established that no factory test was done. The Herald