By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
KARIBA Municipality town clerk Richard Kamhoti (60) and finance director Saratiere Chitenhe (57), who are facing criminal abuse of office charges over alleged an irregular car purchase deal, were Thursday granted $50 000 bail each.
The vehicles were purchased eight years ago in 2013.
Provincial Magistrate Ruth Moyo also ordered the pair to surrender their passports, title deeds to their houses and report at Kariba Police Station three times a week.
Further, accused persons were barred from visiting Kariba Municipality offices until finalisation of the matter.
The bail conditions were set out following the state’s opposition alleging
Kamhoti and Chitenhe were likely to meddle with witnesses, alter or conceal evidential council documents or skip the country’s borders to avoid standing trial.
In admitting to bail, magistrate Moyo expunged the state’s claims that the two council bosses would interfere with witnesses as there was no proof of any attempt to do so.
Moyo ruled accused persons were entitled to their constitutional right to bail if there were no compelling reasons for denial.
The state case, led by prosecutor Kesia Teveraishe is that the two council officials fraudulently obtained personal vehicle loans totalling US$181 000, which were liquidated by council.
The court heard that on 6 March 2013 council passed resolution number C/49/13 authorising the purchase of the pair’s vehicles whose cost shouldn’t exceed US$150 000.
It was averred that the following day Kamhoti, who was by then acting town clerk, and Chitenhe allegedly connived and held a Procurement Board Committee meeting which drew a committee resolution C/50/13 allowing them to secure loans at ZB Bank.
The meeting agreed the bank would then approve the car dealer where the vehicle would be bought.
The then Kariba mayor, Nicholas Hwindiri went on to author a letter on behalf of Kariba Municipality to ZB Bank guaranteeing repayment of the loans to buy the two Toyota Fortuners citing the council and procurement committee resolutions.
Kamhoti and Chitenhe allegedly proceeded to ZB Bank and negotiated a finance lease to acquire the two vehicles and directed council to finance the lease on their behalf.
Kariba Municipality deposited US$3 024, 75 into their personal accounts every month from 31 August 2013 to 31 December 2015 and the bank would automatically deduct the money.
Through the financing schemes between council, ZB Bank, and the two accused persons, ZB Bank purchased two Toyota Fortuners, which they registered in their names.
Mutuso, Taruvinga and Mhiribidi Law Firm represented the duo. They will be back in court on 13 May for routine remand.