Harare regional magistrate Mrs Feresi Chakanyuka yesterday recused herself from presiding over the trial of former deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Douglas Karoro and Grain Marketing Board Mushumbi Pools depot assistant manager Lovejoy Ngowe, who are accused of misappropriating maize and vegetable seed worth US$43 000 under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.
Mrs Chakanyuka recused herself from handling the matter citing professional reasons.
Karoro and Ngowe are charged with fraud. The inputs were meant to benefit farmers in Mbire constituency.
The matter was then taken before regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere, who postponed the trial to March 30 because of the unavailability of Karoro’s lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, who was said to be engaged in Masvingo with another matter.
Lawyer Mr Malvern Mapako appeared on behalf of Mr Rubaya.
The State led by Mr Ephraim Zinyandu alleged that on March 7 last year, Ngowe received 30 050 tonnes of maize seed under the Presidential Input Programme which was meant to benefit Mbire constituency.
Upon receipt of the inputs, Ngowe was supposed to safely keep the seed until distribution.
Allegations are that between March 10 and 25 of last year, Karoro and Ngowe went to defraud GMB Mushumbi Pools Depot of this seed.
Karoro allegedly went to collect the seed from Ngowe on separate occasions using his cars and was issued with goods dispatched vouchers, misrepresenting to GMB clerk and security guards that they were taking the maize seed to the needy in the constituency.
They would then convert them to their own use. On June 1, 2022 Ngowe was allegedly found in possession of 10x2kg Seedco SC301 maize seed and 10x5kg Seedco SC513 maize seed in his house at GMB Mushumbi pools.
GMB is said to have lost US$18 030 in the process.
Also in March last year, Karoro and Ngowe, acting in common purpose, met at Mahuwe Shopping Centre, Mushumbi Pools, and hatched a plan to defraud GMB Mushumbi Pools.
On March 23, Karoro allegedly received 5 000 vegetable combo kits comprising 2,5g packs of rape, onion(texas grano), carrots (nantes) from Valley Seed Private Limited.
He was supposed to hand them over to GMB Mushumbi Depot under the Presidential Input Programme.
Karoro and Ngowe allegedly failed to deliver the vegetable combo kits to GMB Mushumbi Pool and converted them to their own use. Ngowe also allegedly went on further to order GMB Mushumbi inputs clerk, Honesty Nyathi, and security guard, Manyara Manuwere, to fraudulently book the consignment in the goods received voucher, goods dispatch voucher, gate book and stack register to appear as if the consignment had been received at GMB Mushumbi and dispatched to Karoro.
The State claims the consignment was never physically received at GMB Mushumbi depot. GMB lost US$25 000 in the process, according to the State.-state media