By Erica Jecha
HARARE: Fraud-charged Member of Parliament, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, and his co-accused have applied for release from remand, citing delays in the commencement of their trial.
The legislator is accused of defrauding the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) of US$5 million through the fictitious purchase of goods purportedly for use by the government-owned company.
He was arrested together with the parastatal’s bosses in August last year and later released from custody on bail.
The suspects appeared before Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere Friday and were remanded to February 6 for the ruling on their application.
Lead defence lawyer Oliver Marwe told the court that his clients, who are all business persons, were being inconvenienced by consistently coming to court with no progress on investigations into the case.
“The accused persons have been on remand since August 16. The prosecution and the ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission) have not reported to the court as they should on the progress of their investigations,” said Marwe.
“My clients are businesspersons and have suffered business prejudice as a result of bad publicity. Accused number four (Wadyajena) is still failing to recover what he lost since his arrest.”
Marwe insisted that his clients needed to travel outside the country but could not do so since they surrendered their passports as part of the bail conditions.
However prosecutor Kenny Madekutsikwa, agrued that the State’s case would suffer prejudice if the suspects were removed, as this is a matter of national interest although investigations could take years to complete.
He stated that the delay was out of the prosecution’s control as they were seeking legal assistance from countries such as the United States of America, the Netherlands and Mauritius.
“We have initiated and made requisite applications; however our challenge is that we are not the ones who dictate the pace of the response we seek,” he said.
Prosecutors Wadyajena and his co-accused created a local firm identical to a Mauritius-based company which they allegedly used to get orders for Carbon Bale Ties, which were to be used by Cottco.
Court papers State that Cottco never received the bales as per the agreement with the intended with the accused persons allegedly diverting the money for personal benefit.
Some of the money was reportedly used to import 25 trucks from a USA company called Giant Equipment in 2019 and 2020.
The trucks we seized as part of police investigations.
Two posh cars belong to Wadyajena were also intercepted and seized at Beitbridge border post, amid claims they were being taken to South Africa to prevent authorities from seizing them as part of the investigations.