Judge roasts State in Jere case  

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Tarisai Machakaire

HIGH Court judge, Justice Pisirai Kwenda, yesterday roasted the State for preferring a fraud case against businessman and CAPS United owner Farai Jere, saying there is a disconnection between allegations and the charge.

Granting Jere $20 000 bail, Kwenda questioned prosecutor Edmore Makoto the basis of charging Jere for allegedly defrauding the Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) of US$3,5 million in a smart meters deal.
Jere is jointly charged with ZETDC employees Leonard Chisina and Freeman Chikonzo.
Kwenda queried why a “mere” fraud case had been allocated to the anti-corruption court and questioned how Jere was being held for misrepresenting to ZETDC yet the company’s representatives were present in the United Kingdom to assess if he had the capacity to supply the smart meters before signing the deal.
“You brought dead things before me. If you start a trial like this, the appellants do not even need to lead evidence because ZETDC was there. Why did you bring such a case to the High Court, why?  There is a disconnection between the allegations which are wrong and the charge. What do you want me to do?   ” Kwenda quizzed the prosecutor.
“The people who accompanied the first appellant to the UK were supposed to conduct a factory assessment test (FAT), they did not do it but signed papers, and so where is the misrepresentation.
“What is the serious offence that those facts disclose? What is the offence? Is it fraud? I think there could be some other offence,” Kwenda said.
The judge then granted the trio bail with conditions that they report once to the police, surrender passports and not interfere with investigations until the case is finalised.
The trio was represented by Lewis Uriri, Tinofara Hove and Monalisa Ushe who argued that Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube had grossly misdirected himself by denying their clients’ right to bail.
Allegations are that Jere misrepresented to ZETDC that the United Kingdom-based Secure Meters Pvt Ltd had a manufacturing plant for smart meters.
On November 24, 2018, the State alleged, three engineers Julius Mapipi, Munyaradzi Tshuma and Chisina all from ZETDC and Chikonzo went with Jere to the United Kingdom to carry out a factory acceptance test.
It was alleged that while in the UK, Jere took the engineers to a warehouse with smart meters and not a factory.
The court heard engineer Chisina and Chikonzo signed the false FAT report while engineers Mapipi and Tshuma expressed reservations as no tests had been done.
Chisina and Chikonzo argued that there was a factory in the United Kingdom and the tests were done in a laboratory there and were wondering why the other two engineers, Mapipi and Tshuma, were now throwing them under the bus.

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