Friday, July 02, 2010

(HERALD) Ministers, police clash over Mutasa’s son

Ministers, police clash over Mutasa’s son
By Innocent Ruwende and Freeman Razemba

PRESIDENTIAL Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa and Home Affairs co-Minister Theresa Makone on Wednesday went to Mbare, Matapi and Stodart police stations allegedly demanding the release of Mutasa’s son.

Martin Mutasa (47) was arrested on Monday along with businessman Temba Mliswa (38) and George Marere (36) for allegedly seizing shareholding worth US$1 million in a company. Mliswa is a nephew to Minister Mutasa.

Three other people — including a director of the company and his wife — have since been arrested on the same charges.

Martin Mutasa, Mliswa and Marere appeared before a Harare magistrate yesterday.

However, according to police, on Wednesday Ministers Mutasa and Makone tried to "intimidate" officers into releasing Martin Mutasa.

Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commi-ssioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said: "The Zimbabwe Republic Police views seriously the behaviour of the two ministers which sought to interfere with police work, particularly as the ministers sought to protect accused person facing charges of wantonly seizing property outside the law and threatening others."

Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena said the behaviour contravened Section 184 (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act by defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

The law states that any person who "by an act of omission, causes judicial proceedings to be defeated or obstructed, intending to defeat or obstruct the proceedings or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that the proceedings may be defeated or obstructed; or;

"Knowing that a police officer is investigating the commission of a crime or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that a police officer may be investigating the commission or suspected commission of a crime, and who, by any act or omission, causes such investigation to be defeated or obstructed, intending to defeat or obstruct the investigation or realising that there is real risk or possibility that the investigation maybe defeated or obstructed;

"Hinders or disturbs a police officer in the execution of his or her duty, knowing that the police officer is a police officer executing his or her duty or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that the police officer may be a police officer executing his or her duty; shall be guilty of defeating or obstructing the course of justice."

Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena would not disclose what action they were taking against the ministers.

Martin Mutasa, Mliswa and Marere yesterday appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Don Ndirowei to answer to fraud charges.

They were granted US$400 bail each, but will remain in custody after the State invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

The section empowers the State to keep suspects in remand prison for seven days while it considers appealing against the granting of bail.

The trio is represented by lawyer Mr Charles Chinyama of Chinyama and Partners while Mrs Phyllis Zvenyika prosecuted.

Minister Mutasa made an appearance at the courts in the company of his lawyer, Mr Gerald Mlotshwa.

Three others — Hammarskjold Banda, his wife Brendaly and Alfred Mwatiwamba — last Friday appeared in court on the same charges and are out of custody on US$100 bail.

Mliswa, who is the vice president of the Affirmative Action Group, is accused of misrepresenting to businessman Paul Westwood that President Mugabe and Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere had given them the go-ahead to take over 50 percent of his company, Noshio Investments Limited.

Westwood held 50 percent of the company that is valued at US$2,1 million while one of the accused, Banda, owned the other half.

The State alleges that in October 2009, Westwood and Banda had a dispute over alleged misappropriation of funds by Banda’s wife, Brendaly, who was the company’s finance and human resources manager.

She had reportedly withdrawn US$25 000 without Westwood’s knowledge.

The company resolved to suspend Brendaly in October, a decision that did not go down well with Banda.

It is alleged the husband and wife connived with Martin Mutasa, Mliswa, Marere and Mwatiwamba to seize control of the company.

The State says in August 2009, Banda borrowed US$100 000 from Mliswa at 5 percent interest per month.

He, however, allegedly failed to repay the loan at the agreed rate.

Mliswa is said to have demanded that he surrender his Noshio shares to him to offset the debt.

On December 18, Mliswa, Martin Mutasa, Mwatiwamba, Brendaly and a Nigel Murambiwa allegedly went to Noshio Investments offices claiming Minister Kasukuwere had allowed them to take over the company.

Mliswa is alleged to have claimed President Mugabe was aware of the takeover and it was in line with Government policy.

The five allegedly told Westwood they had taken 50 percent of the company’s shares and threatened him with death if he resisted.

The State says Mliswa called a meeting with Noshio workers during which he informed them he had assumed control and warned them against taking orders from Westwood.

It is alleged that Mliswa further threatened Westwood, who stopped visiting the company premises after bouncers were hired to man the entrance.

As a result, the State alleges, Westwood lost shareholding worth US$1 050 000.

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