Regional magistrate steps in as Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu languish in prison over ED’s goats


Harare – The much-anticipated bail hearing for businessmen Mike Chimombe and Moses Mpofu, accused of defrauding the government in a US$7 million goat scheme launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been postponed yet again, leaving the duo languishing in remand prison for another weekend.

The hearing, which was scheduled to resume today, was adjourned to Monday morning by Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje due to the continued absence of the presiding magistrate, Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa, who is reportedly unwell. This marks the second time this week that the hearing has been delayed, leaving the accused men and their legal teams frustrated.

The two are facing charges of fraud related to the Presidential Goat Scheme, a government initiative aimed at empowering rural communities through goat rearing. The State alleges that Chimombe and Mpofu, through their company, Blackdeck Pvt Ltd, submitted forged documents to secure the tender for supplying goats under the scheme.

“The State is alleging that Mpofu and Chimombe forged documents so their company would appear qualified and be allowed to tender for supplying goats under the Presidential Goat Scheme, a tender the company eventually won,” stated prosecutor Mr Anesu Chirenje.

The prosecution has already presented a compelling case, including a memo circulated on social media by the accused men, which reportedly stated that they received around US$4 million from the government for the project. The memo, which was tendered as evidence, contradicts the initial claim of US$7 million received for the scheme.

Further evidence presented by the State includes a National Social Security Authority (NSSA) clearance certificate, which is alleged to be fake, and a forged compliance certificate in the name of Blackdeck Pvt Ltd. The prosecution also presented minutes recorded by the Ministry of Lands when they convened a meeting with Blackdeck Pvt Ltd, as well as an affidavit from the leading investigating officer, Mr Henry Chapwanya.

During the previous court session, Mr Chapwanya informed the court that the prosecution intends to call 13 witnesses and has already recorded statements from six of them. He also expressed concern about the potential for the accused men to interfere with witnesses, citing their previous interactions with some individuals during the tender negotiations.

“There is a high likelihood that the two would interfere with witnesses since they had interacted with some during negotiations for the goat tender from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development,” said Mr Chapwanya.

The defence lawyers, however, maintain their clients’ innocence and are eager to cross-examine the investigating officer, Mr Chapwanya, to challenge the State’s case. The upcoming bail hearing on Monday will be crucial as the defence seeks to secure the release of their clients pending trial.

The case has attracted significant public attention, with many Zimbabweans expressing outrage over the alleged misuse of government funds intended for rural development. The outcome of the bail hearing and the subsequent trial will be closely monitored as the nation awaits justice for the alleged fraud.

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