By Tendai Rupapa
Investigations into the case of former Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Petronella Kagonye, who is facing six counts of fraud, theft and criminal abuse of office charges, are expected to be completed by May 4, the court heard yesterday.
According to the prosecution, the investigations had been stalled by the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Kagonye was yesterday back in court for her routine remand and the matter was pushed further to May 4 when the State is expected to provide her with a trial date.
Through her lawyer Mr Rungano Mahuni, Kagonye unsuccessfully applied to have the trial date set yesterday. She challenged the State to furnish her with a trial date, saying investigations should have been complete by now.
“Your Worship, it was indicated on the last remand that investigations would have been completed by March 23 and today the State is singing a different tune,” said Mr Mahuni.
“We were expecting a trial date today (yesterday) or we apply that she be removed from remand. We are opposed to the State’s postponement of the matter to May 4. If they cannot furnish us with a trial date today, we can be lenient with them and give them time up to April 15.”
In response, prosecutor Ms Netsai Mushayabasa said; “Investigations were stalled by the lockdown regulations which hindered the recording of statements from witnesses. The investigating officer resumed investigations after the relaxation of lockdown measures and he highlighted that by May 4 he would have completed investigations. State maintains that she be remanded to May 4.”
The magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje ruled in favour of the State and dismissed Kagonye’s application to have the matter remanded to April 15.
“The court looked at the circumstances of the matter,” he said. “The accused is facing six counts which calls for various witnesses to give statements. Therefore, giving the State only two weeks is unfair. It would be in the interest of justice to remand the accused to the date proposed by the State. However, failure to provide a trial date on the next remand will result in the accused removed from remand.”
The court heard that some time in February 2014, Kagonye approached the Vaduku Housing cooperative and informed its members that she owned a piece of land at Solomio Farm, yet it belonged to ZB bank.
It is the State case that she went on to tell the cooperative members that she had offered them the land for residential stands. Kagonye then informed members to pay US$10 per square metre and the value of a stand would be determined by size. It is alleged that during the same period, Kagonye received US$20 000 from Porte Rodgers the chairperson of the cooperative.
On June 12 2014, the court heard that Kagonye received a further US$14 000 through a bank transfer to her company Glorious Real Estates and another US$4 500 in June 2015. The cooperative suffered total prejudice of US$38 500.
Kagonye used the same modus operandi and fleeced Shingiriro Housing cooperative US$48 500 and a further US$148 500 received from Solomon Mujuru Housing Cooperative after selling them another piece of land belonging to ZB bank. Kagonye allegedly connived with Nyangui Housing Trust and also defrauded Ruwa residents US$40 000 after misrepresenting that she owned Cloverdale Farm in Goromonzi.
It was further alleged that between June 2018 to July 2020 Kagonye wrote to then Information Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira requesting computers to donate to schools in Goromonzi South.
It is the State’s case that on June 20, 2018 Mandiwanzira then wrote to Potraz requesting facilitation of the donations through its e-learning project to Goromonzi South schools. Potraz donated the computers to Kagonye which were collected by her brother Evans Kagonye on her behalf and he signed the collection form. Potraz made a follow up on the donation, but up to date the computers cannot be accounted for. The Herald