By Nyore Madzianike
Former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba wants the courts to throw away the charges against him of corruptly altering an approved layout plan before allocating it to another user sometime last year, saying the State’s allegations do not show that there is a criminal offence in the first place.
Gomba, through lawyer Mr Arshiel Mugiya, notified the State on Tuesday that he will be filing on June 1 an application for exception to the criminal abuse of office charges he is facing.
In his notice furnished to the court, Gomba said the charge sheet was vague and embarrassing, and did not disclose an offence.
Gomba is jointly charged with town planner Samuel Nyabeze and municipal surveyor Munyaradzi Bowa on allegations of conniving to alter an approved layout plan belonging to Youths in Business Housing Trust and giving it to another user.
Nyabeze and Bowa, who are represented by a different lawyer, Mr Simon Chabuka, then applied for separation of their trials from the trial of Gomba saying a further delay in their trials because of Gomba’s intentions would be prejudicial to them.
Mr Chabuka said Nyabeza and Bowa attended court yesterday anticipating a trial and were ready to hear the prosecution and be put on their defence.
They have now been on remand for nearly eight months and want the trial to proceed.
The continuous postponement has a bearing on accused. We apply that they be tried separately since State said it is ready and there are witnesses available, he said.
The State led by Mrs Tinashe Makiya opposed the application saying the two were linked to the offence and would not suffer any prejudice if they were to wait for another two weeks before they are tried.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna dismissed Mr Chabuka’s application for separation of charges and ordered all three accused to return to court on June 8 for Gomba’s application for exception to the charges.
The State alleges that the three allegedly converted State land into council land and allocated it to Taringana Housing Scheme with the same plan number that was allocated to Youths in Business Trust.
It is alleged that Gomba, in his capacity as the ceremonial mayor, wrote a memorandum on February 18, 2020 saying the plan for Taringana Housing Scheme had been approved and council should proceed to survey the land.
This, says the State, was misleading and inaccurate since the same plan had been issued and approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to the Youths in Business Housing Scheme.
Plans to proceed with the change had also been set aside by the town clerk, but Gomba disregarded such advice, and acted beyond his powers as a ceremonial mayor.
The Environmental Management Authority Agency inspected the land and noted that 40 percent of it was wetland and recommended that part be left out of the planned development.
But it is alleged that the two officials went on to demarcate the wetland into 530 housing stands, disregarding the recommendation.
All three are accused of showing favour to Taringana Housing Trust and disfavour to Youths in Business Housing Scheme. The Herald