TOP GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS UP FOR FRAUD CHARGES

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Three Agriculture, Mechanisation and Rural Resettlement ministry officials, who allegedly diverted fuel coupons worth thousands of dollars meant for command agriculture beneficiaries, yesterday appeared at Marondera Magistrates’ Court facing two counts of fraud.

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Boston Guti (46), a Goromonzi district agricultural extension officer, Tapiwa Jura (33), an Agritex extension specialist, and Itai Tariro Mharakurwa (32), an accountant, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The matter was postponed to August 27 for continuation of trial.

According to court papers, on December 1, 2016, Liberty Nyadome of Yafele village in Goromonzi was contracted to cultivate one hectare of maize under the command agriculture programme at the district Agritex offices.

Four days later, Nyadome proceeded to the district offices where he was told by Guti that he was entitled to 100 litres of diesel to be issued in two instalments.

It is alleged that Guti then issued Nyadome with six copies of release order forms with serial number 016592 on which he endorsed that he was to collect 50 litres of diesel.

Nyadome took the forms to Mashonaland East provincial Agritex offices for verification and subsequent collection of the fuel.

Nyadome allegedly failed to get the coupons after he was told that the fuel was not in stock.

It is alleged that he made several attempts to get the coupons from the provincial offices, but in vain, prompting him to withdraw his input application.

During the withdrawal process, Guti allegedly cancelled only the top copy of the release order forms, leaving the other five uncancelled.

On February 28, 2017, the trio allegedly connived and hatched a plan to steal diesel and forged the five copies of the release order forms, knowing that Nyadome had withdrawn from the programme.

Guti allegedly forwarded the forms with 1 500 litres of diesel to Jura and Mharakurwa, who in turn authenticated the forms as genuine claims.

The matter came to light on August 22 when Nyadome was invited to the district offices where he was informed that he had received 1 500 litres of diesel.

The total value of the stolen fuel was $1 815 and nothing was recovered.

Rumbidzai Katsande represented the State.

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