Sweet news for former police chief Augustine Chihuri who fled to exile during 2017 military coup


Zimbabwe’s former police chief Augustine Chihuri has won his battle against moves to seize his properties under a controversial “unexplained wealth” law.

Chihuri, who fled to exile during a 2017 military coup, however failed to have the law declared unconstitutional in a partial victory at the Harare High Court.

Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, in a judgement read on his behalf by Justice Justice Rodgers Foroma Manyangadze on Tuesday, stopped the National Prosecuting Authority from forfeiting Chihuri’s vast portfolio of properties unless he can explain how he acquired them.

Justice Kwenda amended, by deletion, several parts of the unexplained wealth order granted by the High Court on June 11, 2020. In doing so, he stopped the NPA from asking further questions about several properties including Chihuri’s imposing Gletwyn mansion sitting on 30 acres and valued at US$7 million. The property combines seven stands.

Other properties the NPA has been blocked from inquiring into include a 1,219 square meter house in Strathaven, a 9.25-hectare farm in Lomagundi, a 5,500 sqm house in Quinnington, a 4,639 sqm house in Athlone, Harare, a 142 sqm house in Zengeza and a 4,891 sqm house in Mt Pleasant.

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The High Court has also ordered non-interference with several other Chihuri properties including five vehicles, agricultural equipment at the Lomagundi farm and farming equipment at his Inyika Farm in Shamva including combine harvesters, tractors, planters and boom sprays.

It was however not all good news for Chihuri after Justice Kwenda said he was “not satisfied that good cause has been shown to set aside the other order with respect to funds received” by four of Chihuri’s companies – Croxile Investments, Adamah Enterprises, Mastermedia and Mastaw Investments – from the ZRP for services. The companies have since stopped trading.

Chihuri’s lawyer Addington Chinake had argued that unexplained wealth orders “demonstrate the hazard that exists in allowing public officials unfettered power to simply point at a person and ask you to explain.”

He said in Chihuri’s case, he was not given an opportunity to explain how he acquired the properties before the NPA applied for the unexplained wealth order.

“When you have such power, you have to exercise it judiciously and fairly, and you should give any such person due notice of what you intend to do and affording them opportunity to respond and an opportunity to be heard. Where they (NPA) see reason to take action, they must give reasons for doing that,” Chinake argued.

Chihuri’s case was a good example where “the Prosecutor General’s office did not satisfy these requirements and for that reason this unexplained wealth order was obtained improperly and in an unconstitutional manner and must be set aside,” the lawyer said back in March, before judgement was reserved.

Chinake said Chihuri owned a company called Kidsdale for 20 years after securing a loan from CBZ bank. The company owned tippers, earth movers and other construction equipment.

“It had big contracts,” Chinake said. “My client is not a dubious character who suddenly woke up to amass such wealth. It’s painful, for example, that the applicant being a beneficiary of the land reform programme was also a farmer producing maize which he sold to GMB. However, after the November 2017 events, his maize would not be accepted by the state.

“The applicant cannot be said to have obtained money or generated money through improper or illicit means when in fact he has chronicled before this court full details of how he was engaged in banana farming and maize farming which was sold for profit.”

— ZimLive

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