By Mary Taruvinga
SUSPENDED Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) finance director Mudzingwa Simon Taranhike has been jailed 30 months after he was convicted on criminal abuse of office charges.
Taranhike was convicted for unlawfully dishing out 1 800 litres worth of petrol to a local journalist.
He will however serve 15 months effective after his sentence was reduced on condition of good behaviour and that he restitutes 1 800 litres of fuel he abused.
In passing sentence, Harare Magistrate, Hosea Mujaya said a clear message should be sent to Zimbabweans that corruption will never be tolerated.
“A clear message that courts do not condone corruption should be sent to the nation. Corruption is cancer to the society which needs to be eradicated,” he said.
Prosecutor Netsai Mushayabasa had pleaded with the court to give Taranhike a stiff custodial sentence on grounds that he tarnished Zinara’s image.
“The accused caused loss of public funds as a result of his actions tarnishing the image of Zinara in the process. Appropriate sentence in these circumstances is effective custodial sentence,” said the prosecutor.
Mushayabasa proved that Taranhike pressured Zinara’s transport clerk Dennis Jaricha to unprocedurally release the fuel coupons, ignoring protocol.
It was the State’s case that on April 1, Zinara finance manager Anywhere Mudodo summoned Jaricha to his office.
“When Jaricha arrived at the office, he found Mudodo in the company of Taranhike, and accountant expenditure Stephen Matute,” reads the State outline.
It is alleged that Taranhike ordered Jaricha to explain the procedure of issuing fuel to external stakeholders, with him explaining that procedure entails request from user, recommendation from administration manager and approval of the chief executive officer.
Taranhike then instructed Jaricha to release 1 800 litres of fuel coupons to the journalist.
On the day in question, then chief executive officer Mathlene Mujokoro and admin manager Peter Boterere were not in the office.
Jaricha advised Taranhike to inquire from the chief executive officer’s personal assistant Rennie Humanikwa if approval to issue fuel to an external stakeholder could be granted.
Humanikwa indicated that she had no capacity to approve the request since her office had not yet received the request, court heard.
Taranhike then insisted that Jaricha issues the fuel and under enormous pressure, the latter tried to contact Boterere who was not answering his mobile phone.
On the same day, Taranhike went to Mudodo’s office and advised him that the journalist will come and collect the fuel from a local fuel company.
He also directed Mudodo to contact the scribe and inform him to come and collect the petrol coupons.
The journalist then drove to the Zinara offices in Highlands where Mudodo led him to the boardroom before he was handed coupons by Jaricha.
The State said the scribe signed the issue voucher and fuel requisition book to acknowledge of receipt.
On the same day Mujokoro received a phone call informing her about the release before ordering Jaricha to write a report.
As a result, the State said Zinara suffered actual prejudice of $6 354 and nothing was recovered.