Top Zvimba District Official In Court For Receiving US$800 Land Bribe

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE Zvimba assistant district development coordinator, Walter Hwaira has landed in trouble after allegedly demanding and receiving US$800 as ‘facilitation fees’ to enable a prospective farm owner to get agricultural land.

Hwaira (56) appeared in court for initial remand Tuesday facing charges of contravening the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act pertaining to “criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.”

Chinhoyi Magistrate Melody Rwizi granted Hwaira $20 000 bail and remanded the matter to 29 June for routine remand.

The state had opposed bail arguing the accused person was a chairperson of the district lands committee and was likely to commit similar offences, but the magistrate quashed the assertion basing on the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Rwizi also averred bail was a constitutional right that could only be denied if there was overwhelming evidence justice would be jeopardised.

The state led by Tinoziva Chipupuri said on a date unknown to the prosecution, but during the period extending from March to April 2021, Hwaira who is employed by the Ministry of Local Government as assistant district development coordinator for Zvimba, demanded and received US$800 from Excevious Taruvinga.

The money was a bribe so that Hwaira facilitates fast processing of an application and documentation for Taruvinga to get agricultural land.

However, Taruvinga failed to have the land allocated to him.

The court heard upon realising that he had been duped, Taruvinga demanded his money back and the senior government official only managed to repay US$500.

The matter was subsequently reported to the police leading to Hwaira’s arrest on 9 June for criminally abusing his office.