HARARE – The High Court yesterday acquitted Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Limited director Lovemore Kurotwi, who was accused of prejudicing government of $2 billion, following a five-year trial.
Kurotwi, through his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, had applied for discharge at the close of the State’s case.
Supreme Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu, who handled the trial while he was still a High Court judge, ruled that Kurotwi, together with his alleged accomplice Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)’s ex-boss Dominic Mubaiwa, were not guilty of the charge.
“The State having failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused (Kurotwi and Mubaiwa), it is accordingly ordered that both accused be and are hereby acquitted and discharged,” Bhunu said in his judgment delivered yesterday.
Charges against Kurotwi and Mubaiwa arose after a failed investment by South African diamond firm, Benn Steinmeitz Group Resources (BSGR), into diamond mining in the Marange fields.
Kurotwi was accused of misrepresenting to the Mines ministry and ZMDC that Core Mining was a special purpose vehicle of BSGR, which was supposed to be the guarantor in a joint venture agreement between the parties.
ZMDC, which owns Marange Resources and Kurotwi’s Core Mining, went into a joint venture to extract diamonds in Marange, forming the now-defunct Canadile Miners.
Prosecutor Chris Mutangadura had told the court that parties later travelled to South Africa for a due diligence exercise, after Mubaiwa prepared an unapproved and uncirculated memorandum of agreement between Marange Resources (Private) Limited, signed in July 2009, without acquiring Cabinet authority.
The State further claimed that Kurotwi lied that his company operated from South African offices.
However, Bhunu in his judgment said no evidence was led to establish that Core Mining did not operate from Pikwane Diamond offices in South Africa.
“There was equally no evidence led to establish that Core Mining did not own the mining operations viewed by the due diligence. In fact, the State took the court all the way to South Africa to show it non-existent evidence in the forests of the Vaal Bosch area,” Bhunu said.
He said the State had failed to prove that the due diligence exercise was fraudulent as it alleged.
Mubaiwa was represented by Lewis Uriri.