By Mary Taruvinga
A FORMER pharmacist at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (PGH) and his wife have lost their upmarket house to the state after the High Court ruled the property was acquired using crime proceeds.
The court proved that Russel Tatenda Mwenye and his wife, Rutendo Vera abused state funds amounting to US$86 381,88 in a botched tender deal.
The scam was unearthed by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) which went on to apply for forfeiture early this year.
Mwenye and his wife had argued that they did not purchase their stand through corrupt means.
But High Court judge Benjamin Chikowero ruled that Zacc managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“Considering the quantum of the loss suffered by the public entity (PGH), I am not at all persuaded that an order of forfeiture stands disproportionate to the prejudice to be suffered by the respondents.
“In the result, the following order shall issue, stand number 31843 Mabvazuva Township, Ruwa be and is forfeited to the state. Each shall bear its own costs,” ruled the judge.
Zacc set its sights on Mweye who reportedly manipulated the process and awarded a tender to his company early this year.
The court heard on March 2016, PGH flighted a tender requesting bids for the supply and delivery of medical sutures.
According to the applicant, Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi who deposed an affidavit through chief law officer, Chris Mutngadura, the tender committee carried out due process and awarded the tender to Flancon Investments (Private) Limited claiming the company was the cheapest bidder after it charged US$37 844,60.
Court papers show that order forms were raised by the procurement department and forwarded to Mwenye for recommendation before it was to be forwarded to the chief pharmacist for approval.
Mutangadura further said that Mwenye then assigned his subordinate, Yvonne Mudimu, to purchase the medical sutures from Silksilver Investments (Private) Limited, a company he had interests in.
The company had participated in the tender process but had failed to meet the requirements.
The company supplied the order but charged US$86 381,88.
Mutangadura said Mwenye abused his duty, leading to the hospital being prejudiced US$48 537,28.
He said after the money was transferred into Silksilver Investments’ bank account, part of it was transferred for Mwenye’s benefit.
According to court papers, part of the money amounting to US$15 608 was used to purchase Mwenye and Vera’s residential stand in Mabvazuva Township, Ruwa.
After the offence was unearthed, Mwenye was sacked from his employment.
It was later discovered that Mwenye was the beneficial owner of Silksilver Investments and that he and Vera were signatories to the company’s bank account.
The PG then sought permission from the High Court to confiscate Mweye’s house, an application which was granted.