Chitungwiza mayor Phillip Mutoti, who was suspended from duty last year on corruption charges, was last Friday sentenced to 12 months in jail on charges of illegally acquiring a residential stand for his then three-year-old son.
However, Mutoti, an MDC-T councillor, was spared from serving a jail term after Chitungwiza magistrate Francis Mapfumo suspended four months of the sentence for five years the other eight months on condition that he performs community service.
Mutoti and all Chitungwiza councillors were last year suspended by the then local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere on separate corruption charges with the government is yet to make ruling on the suspensions.
However, on Friday the mayor and former housing director for Chitungwiza Kennedy Dube, were found guilty of illegal facilitating the transfer of a 200-square metre residential stand to Mutoti’s son, Nathan in 2015. Nathan was three years old then and not eligible to apply for a residential stand.
Both men had pleaded not guilty to the charges, but Mapfumo found them guilty of criminal abuse of duty as public officers before passing the sentence.
“The accused’s three-year-old son was not eligible to apply for a residential stand. However, the accused told the court that the stand was given to him as part of the conditions of service (as mayor),” Mapfumo said before sentencing Mutoti and Dube.
“He (Mutoti) later on deposited an affidavit in the application stating that he wanted to transfer the stand to his relative Patience Chibwe when he actually benefited after selling it to the same person,” Mapfumo said in his ruling.
It was discovered during the trial that Mutoti had misled the Chitungwiza town council by claiming that Nathan was self-employed, resulting in the son being allocated a residential stand ahead of over 7,000 other home-seekers on the council’s housing list.
Former Chitungwiza town clerk George Makunde was also arrested with Mutoti and Dube last year but acquitted of fraud charges by Mapfumo.