Ex-army top official arrested for trying to steal impounded copper

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By Court Reporter

FORMER Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) colonel, Lawrence Gondo has been arrested after he purportedly directed the release of 59 tonnes of copper ore he intended to loot.

Gondo, who is now employed as Zimbabwe Mining Development Cooperation (ZMDC) acting chief operations, was hauled before Harare magistrate, Rumbidzai Mugwagwa answering to a charge of criminal abuse of office.

He was released on free bail before his case was remanded to January 15.

Prosecutor Linda Gadzikwa told court that Gondo allegedly wrote a supporting letter in an attempt to cause the release of 59 tonnes of copper ore which was impounded by the police from illegal copper dealers.

It is alleged that he wrote the letter claiming that Kirsten Chirenje, Mtileni Piet, Famina Masaire and a registered copper dealing company Element 22 had legally acquired the mineral from ZMDC’s Mhangura Mine.

Court further heard that due to his conduct, the accused persons were acquitted by a Chivhu magistrate for the offence.

Allegations against him arose between October 29 and October 31 2018 when he wrote a letter in which he allegedly misrepresented that Cute Suppliers Private Limited had been offered a three months trial mining contract at the ZMDC’s Mhangura Mines.

The court heard that the letter was intended to obstruct investigations in connection with 59 tonnes of copper ore impounded by the police at Featherstone.

In the letter, Gondo allegedly falsely inferred that Cute Suppliers had acquired the copper ore from Mhangura Mine when it did not originate from the said mine.

It is alleged that Gondo showed favour to Mtileni Piet, Masaire and Element 22 who were being charged for failing to give a satisfactory account for possession of copper as stipulated in section 10 of the Copper Control Act.

Resultantly, the accused persons were acquitted at the Chivhu magistrate’s court under CRB 98-99/18.

Masaire appeared before the same magistrate and was charged with violating the Copper Control Act and for defeating the court of justice.

He was also remanded out of custody to January 15 on free bail.

It is the State’s case that Masaire connived with Element 22 employee Tarisai Bera and allegedly misrepresented to Inyati Old Mine Headlands that she is employed at Element 22 and bought 59 tonnes of Copper Ore.

When the copper was impounded, Masaire further misrepresented that she is employed at Element 22 and produced the company’s copper dealing Permit Number COP 2039.

On the second count, Masaire intending to defeat the ends of justice, allegedly misrepresented to the police and Chivhu magistrates courts that Element 22 were the owners of the 59 the mineral concrete when it belonged her and a South African registered company who both are unlicenced to deal in copper.

The two were represented by their lawyer Jonathan Samukange.