Chihuri challenges property seizure

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FORMER police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri has challenged moves by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to seize several properties from him to recover US$32 million he reportedly stole from the force, the Daily News on Sunday reports.

This comes as  government alleges that the former top cop, who is now believed to be in self-exile either in Malawi or South Africa, created a “criminal syndicated mafia” that siphoned funds for his personal, family and cronies’ benefit from the police.

It also comes as Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi filed an application at the High Court last week seeking an order compelling Chihuri to explain how he acquired his properties.

However, in court papers filed at the High Court on Friday, Chihuri seeks to have the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) issued against him set aside as it was allegedly not procedurally served to him.

“The applicants became aware of the UWO after a series of newspaper publications from about mid-May to mid-June 2020…on the 16th of June; service of the UWO only was made on the applicants, via Kantor and Immerman. The respondent did not serve the exparte application on the applicants and has not done so up to now,” Chihuri’s application reads.

Chihuri contends that the procedure adopted in the case by the State, including “the denial of prior and subsequent access to and or service of the ex parte application”, was a breach of his and other respondents’ rights to protection of the law, fair and equitable administrative justice and administrative procedures”.

He also insisted that his rights to a fair trial and legal representation as well as to being heard prior to any final adverse order being made were infringed.

“It is my respectful submission that  once it is found, as it should be, that provisions in terms of which UWO was sought and granted are constitutionally invalid, then good cause undoubtedly exists for the setting aside of the UWO as it is an incurably bad law,” Chihuri said.

Alternatively, Chihuri sought to have the court consider whether a section of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act did not violate a provision of the Constitution.

He also wants the court to consider several statues.

“The applicants aver in this connection that should this court decided to proceed in terms of section 175(4) of the constitution, the applicants respectfully aver their request for the referral of the matter to the Constitutional Court is neither frivolous or vexatious,” said Chihuri.

Chihuri was in charge of the police force for 25 years before he was unceremoniously removed from the post soon after the November 2017 military-backed coup that saw the jettisoning of the now late President Robert Mugabe from office.

Hodzi wants all assets still in Zimbabwe frozen until investigations and resulting court actions are complete.

 He cites Chihuri, his wife Isobel Halima Khan Chihuri, daughter Samantha Hamadziripi Chihuri, and son Ethan Takudzwa Augustine Chihuri  as well as his relatives Aitken and Netsai Khan and six companies: Croxile Investments, Adamah Enterprises, Mastermedia (Pvt) Ltd, Mastaw Investments and Rash Marketing as respondents.

The State is investigating Chihuri for criminal abuse of office, money laundering, theft and fraud using various companies.

Hodzi contends Chihuri established the companies in connivance with his relatives for the alleged purposes of siphoning funds from the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s revolving fund.

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