GRACE LAND SCAM, I ERRED, SAYS MAGISTRATE
A Harare magistrate who revoked bail for former Zanu-PF Harare provincial youth chairman Godwin Gomwe and seven others accused of extorting over $46 000 from eight housing co-operatives in Glen Norah convened an urgent court session yesterday and reinstated the bail. Magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe told the court that he made an error in revoking bail when State had not made the application.
“I acted erroneously,” he said. “State was supposed to make the application. I am releasing the accused.” The eight have been on trial since July 2015 for using former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name in the land scam. The remand date of November 27 remains unchanged. Gomwe alias Mambo (34) is jointly charged with Muchineripi Mupindu alias Ginya (36), Fidelis Ndaradza alias Brigadier (32), Haruwandi Munyawiri alias Baya (46), Hamphrey Madenyika (29), Josephine Hadziindi (59), Norah Toronga (38) and Moses Handiseni.
They are represented by Mr Shelton Mahuni and are facing three counts of extortion.
The State alleged that on February 11, the NRZ, Mudadirwa Zvobgo, Tenzi Tinzwei, Spring Field, Archgrace, Palmar Vision, Westgin, First Avenue, Green Image and Ingoni housing co-operatives, which are all registered under the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development, were allocated 300 residential stands by the City of Harare.
Gomwe allegedly mobilised 30 youths and proceeded to the construction site and informed the co-operatives that the land once belonged to the late Amai Sally Mugabe.
He added that the land was now owned by former First Lady Grace Mugabe, but was chased away. On May 10, Gomwe and his accomplices went back to the site, ordering members of the co-operatives to leave.
He insisted that the land belonged to Mrs Mugabe. A fracas ensued, prompting the complainants to approach the High Court for a provisional order authorising them to develop the land.
Gomwe allegedly mobilised 80 more youths and forcibly removed the complainants from the site. They demanded four stands or $20 000.
However, they did not extend the demand to Archgrace Housing Cooperative because its members are police officers. Operations were stopped after complainants failed to raise the money.
This did not go down well with Godfrey Chivasa, the chairperson of Perfect Hope Housing Co-operative, because he had already given the suspects cash and 19 stands as kickbacks.
The accused were given another $25 000.
The complainants were ordered to affiliate with an unregistered consortium named Dr Amai Grace Mugabe to avert further trouble.
Each co-operative was to pay $120 as joining fee and was issued with receipts inscribed Amai Dr Grace Mugabe Housing Consortium.
Handiseni stopped operations again, saying Gomwe had not benefited from the $25 000 they had paid.
The complainants offered $5 000, which Gomwe said was not enough for a senior official like him and demanded $10 000 more.
The money was allegedly handed over to one Kuda, who was said to be the president of the Zimbabwe Council of Students’ Unions (ZICOSU), who later handed it over to Gomwe.