Harare mayor Gomba denied bail  

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Blessing Masakadza

HARARE mayor Hebert Gomba, who is facing allegations of converting State land to council land and parcelling it out to a housing cooperative in Mufakose at the expense of another cooperative, has been denied  bail.
The State had opposed his admission to pre-trial freedom, arguing that the likelihood of interference with witnesses was high as he held an influential position.
They also argued that Gomba faced a serious offence which attracts a custodial sentence, which may induce him to abscond, claims which were agreed to by the court.
Through his lawyers Lovemore Madhuku and Harrison Nkomo, Gomba had argued that he was a proper candidate for bail.
Madhuku further argued that the State’s case was not strong and the State had failed to provide evidence of their averments.
They also challenged the authenticity of the memorandum being relied on by the State to nail Gomba, saying it was fraudulent.
In denying Gomba bail, regional magistrate Bianca Makwande said the court could not ignore the fact that there were developments already happening on the land at the alleged instigation of Gomba.
Makwande said the likelihood of interference with witnesses was high and that Gomba faced a harsh sentence and could flee trial as a result.
He was then remanded in custody to August 7.
It is the State’s case that sometime in 2019, Gomba and his accomplices who are yet to appear in court reproduced and altered an approved layout plan belonging to Youth in Business Housing Trust, which resulted in the purported conversion of State land to council land and allocated the land to Taringana Housing Scheme with the same plan number.
The plan number had been issued to Youth in Business Housing Trust by the ministry of Local Government.
Gomba, in his capacity as the ceremonial mayor, then originated a memorandum from his office dated February 18, 2020, purporting that the plan for Taringana Housing Scheme had been approved and, therefore, council should proceed to survey the said land.
It is alleged that the memorandum was misleading and grossly inaccurate since the same plan had been issued and approved by the ministry for the Youth in Business Housing Trust.
Allegations are that any plans to develop the land had been halted by the town clerk, but the mayor disregarded such advice.
The State alleges that Gomba’s actions were beyond his powers as a ceremonial mayor.

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