HARARE – A Harare magistrate yesterday dismissed an application for discharge filed by an exhibit officer based at CID Vehicle Theft Squad who reportedly swallowed $10 bribe money.
Grace Tsingano, 35, is answering to criminal abuse of office charges before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande.
She had applied for discharge at the close of the State case arguing that no prima facie case had been established against her.
However, Sande ruled that the State had managed to prove through a statement from Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile telecoms company, Econet, that Tsingano had received part of the bribe money through e-wallet payment system EcoCash.
She said State witnesses had all testified that they saw Tsingano receiving the “trap bribe money” balance from a distance, hence there was need to put her to defence.
Her defence case commences today. The complainant is the State represented by assistant inspector Stewart Rakabonga of Police General Headquarters Harare (PGHQ).
Tsingano was responsible for booking exhibits and undertaking restoration — a process of regularising car engine or chassis number with the one that appears on the registration book.
On March 7, Tsingano was at work when Mutama brought his Mazda 626 for change of ownership. It was discovered that the car’s chassis number was not legible.
The court heard that Mutama was ordered to fill a restoration form before being referred to Tsingano’s office and submitted the papers. It was alleged that Tsingano went through Mutama’s forms and advised him that she would impound his car and forfeit it to the State.
She reportedly demanded $20 from Mutama for his car not to be impounded and he asked for her phone number to transfer the money via EcoCash.
That same day Mutama advised PGHQ Internal Investigations department about the issue and a trap was set up on March 8.
Mutama then contacted Tsingano who agreed to receive $11 through EcoCash and agreed that the balance of $10 would be settled after successfully changing ownership of the car.
On March 8, Mutama returned to Tsingano in the company of “trap details” and handed over the $10 in two $5 denominations to the cop.
After receiving the trap money, the detectives followed Tsingano to her office and a scuffle ensued as she resisted arrest.
The court heard that Tsingano chewed the money and bolted out of the office.
The trap money was never recovered but Tsingano was eventually arrested.
Matimbe added that while in the boss’ office, Tsingano was asked to surrender her phone since there were allegations that she had received the bribe via EcoCash.
“She stood up and bolted out of the office while other detectives pursued her. When she was caught, Tsingano squeezed the phone tightly, shattering the screen and nothing could be extracted from it,” Matimbe added.
The court heard that Tsingano had to be dragged back to office before being formally advised about her arrest.