Acting City of Harare town planner, Fani Machipisa who lost his mother a few hours after his arrest will go through his mother’s mourning period in prison after Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna denied him bail claiming that he is likely to interfere with investigations.
Machipisa appeared in court on offences he allegedly committed in a week he acted as housing director in 2018 involving land allocations valued at US$210 000.
Machipisa’s lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku had begged with the court to grant Machipisa bail so that he could go and mourn his deceased mother but the magistrate ruled that the prison services have a facility to console bereaved inmates.
Madhuku had pleaded “On compassionate grounds, he lost his mother on the day he first appeared in court and the court must take judicial notice.”
Machipisa is facing allegations of parcelling out stands without following proper procedure.
He is facing two counts of criminal abuse of office and the State opposed his admission to bail on grounds that he was facing a serious offence and that he would interfere with evidence and investigations.
In bidding for his client’s freedom, Prof Madhuku also gave examples of former Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba, Admore Nhekairo who was the accused’s immediate boss who arrested and granted bail but facing similar allegations.
“The court must take judicial notice in the interest of justice that most of those arrested over the City of Harare land deals or related offences have all been granted bail after being arrested.Other cases that have happened in Harare City Council that involve senior and junior Councillors were admitted to bail.Hence basing on those grounds court should also consider the accused in the same manner,” said Madhuku.
He further proposed on behalf of the accused that he be granted bail and if the court is not satisfied it is in the court’s hands to put stringent measures in relation to bail.
Allegations are that between June 19 and 22, 2018, Machipisa criminally abused his office as a public official by allocating fictitious stand numbers 7246 – 7250 and 7253- 7262 in Mabelreign with an unknown layout plan to home seekers who were not on the council’s housing waiting list.
He is alleged to have fast tracked the allocation without due diligence and without following council procedures.
The land was designated for stands 3621 to 3639 on an already approved layout plan.
The State alleges that Machipisa as the acting housing director took advantage of the absence of a substantive director, who was on a one-week workshop, to fast-track the allocation process to happen within a week which he was acting.
When the substantive director returned, Machipisa is alleged to have concealed the allocations and the director went on to cause allocation of the land.
One of the beneficiaries, who was said to have been on the waiting list by 2005, was just 13 years old which is contrary to council’s housing allocation policy which does not approve juveniles.
It is further alleged that in September this year, Machipisa directed George Mukodzi, the district officer for Mufakose, to halt developments on a piece of land which was allocated to Youth In Business Trust by the State.
He allegedly indicated that the papers Youth In Business Trust had were fake and that the land belonged to council and allocated to Taringana Housing Consortium yet the land was State-owned.
Also arrested over the land dispute between Youth In Business and Taringana Housing Consortium are Taurai Nziradzinengwe and Tatenda Selemani, accused of interfering with developments at the disputed land.
They allegedly demarcated and allocated the land to their chosen beneficiaries.
The two were granted free bail by magistrate Nduna who indicated that the State had nothing compelling to deny them bail.