City director denied bail in US$1m stands scam

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HARARE City Council human capital director Matthew Marara has been denied bail in a case he is alleged of defrauding the council of over US$1 million in a housing stands scam which has sucked in 13 other officials.
The State wanted him denied bail, arguing that he is interfering with witnesses having allegedly caused one of them to lose his job.
The State further argued that other witnesses were now “trembling” and his continued stay on the job would jeopardise investigations. The State also argued that if he is freed, he would abscond as he is facing a serious offence involving a substantial amount of money.
The state argument found favour with the court, with magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guuriro denying him pre-trial freedom, stating that he holds an influential position and that there is risk of interference.
Marara is facing allegations of fraud, alternatively criminal abuse of office as a public officer.
In response, Marara through his lawyer Tsitsi Mazikana had argued that he was a proper candidate for bail, denying the allegation of interference. He argued that the said witness’ contract had expired and was not fired by Marara.
Marara argued his arrest was done by overzealous cops who were bent on settling scores of their fellow officer who was seconded to the city council whose contract had expired.
Allegations are that Marara and 13 other council officials identified open spaces in Kuwadzana 3, 4 and 5.
Without following due process of change of use, they allegedly created fake pay schemes and fraudulently created sundry accounts in respect of each stand to purport as if they were originated and approved by the City of Harare.
They allegedly misrepresented to home seekers that the stands were approved by the council and sold 150 stands, prejudicing the council of US$$1 141 779.
Marara is denying the allegations, arguing the council has computerised signatures and anyone with malicious intent can access the system and forge signatures.
He also questioned the US dollars value of the stands, saying residential stands by the council were sold in local currency with the State, arguing that the US dollar was used for valuation as a stable currency.
Prosecutors George Manokore, Sheila Mupindu and Netsai Mushayabasa appeared for the State.

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