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Jere’s lawyer sick, trial postponed

By Nyore Madzianike

The trial of businessman Farai Jere, his company Helcraw Electrical and two Zesa engineers Leonard Chisina and Freeman Kuziva Chikonzo on fraud charges involving US$3,5 million emanating from a smart meter supply deal, was yesterday adjourned to Monday after their lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri said he could not attend the trial this week because of ill health.

Caps United boss Farai Jere at the Harare Magistrates Court
Caps United boss Farai Jere at the Harare Magistrates Court

Adv Uriri told Harare regional magistrate Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa applied that the matter be adjourned to Monday for trial continuation. Mrs Tendai Shonhai and Mr Tafara Chirambira, appearing for the State, consented to the adjournment.

The trial opened on Wednesday with the quartet denying the charges.

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Former Zesa Holdings’ northern region general manager Engineer Raphael Katsande appeared as a State witness and told the court that the power utility company’s executive chairperson, Dr Sydney Gata, made a report that resulted in Jere and his co-accused being arrested.

Eng Katsande said he tried to invoke a clause from the contract which was signed by Jere and his company with Zesa, so that they could address the short-comings that had been observed in Dr Gata’s report. He said Dr Gata told him that “some of the things were not done properly”.

“There were some tests on the back head computers that had not been carried out. There were some internal investigations that were done and I also made my own investigations apart from the ones that had been done by the holding company, Zesa.

“Basically, they confirmed what had been said in the report (prepared by Dr Gata). I then acted according to the report and invoked a clause from the contract that requires that the supplier addresses the shortcomings that had been observed,” he said.

Eng Katsande told the court that according to the report he was given, a Fitness Assessment Test (FAT) had not been complied with.

“We had plans to recover the meters from points, subsequently as an essential service provider were focusing on other things,” he said.

In denying the allegations, the quartet claimed that the FAT was conducted in accordance with what was agreed in the contract with ZESA.

“The FAT was conducted in accordance with the agreed scope. There were no specific terms of reference and the FAT was undertaken on the basis of best practice and the relevant international standards. Essentially, the technical conduct of the FAT was to follow the supplier’s internal operations.

“The FAT was for the purpose of ensuring that what was manufactured was the same as the sample that was provided at adjudication, subject to any agreed changes. The factory test results were machine-generated and could thus not be fake.

“The results were known to all and what is now complained of was recorded,” they said in their joint defence outline. In their defence, the quartet said the adjudicators passed the samples supplied by Helcraw Electrical by 93 percent. The Herald