By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
High Court Judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda granted ZWL 20 000 bail to businessman Farai Jere who is facing fraud charges.
Jere, through his lawyer, Tinofara Kudakwashe Hove, had made an appeal against the Harare Magistrates’ Court decision refusing him bail.
Kwenda granted Jere’s appeal citing misdirection on the part of the Magistrate and ordered him to surrender travel documents, not to interfere with witnesses and to report once a week at the nearest police station.
Jere has been charged with allegations of fraudulently winning a tender to supply Zesa meters worth US$3 million along with two Zesa employees, Leonard Chisina and Freeman Chikonzo.
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 the 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.