HARARE – Zanu PF legislator for Gokwe-Nembudziya Justice Mayor Wadyajena and his co-accused look to have escaped their fraud and money laundering charges involving US$5 million in public funds after a Harare magistrate Monday removed them from remand citing the State’s failure to prosecute them, six months after their arrest.
Wadyajena, a close ally to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) last year charged with the offences.
Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere has since ordered prosecution to continue by way of summons adding that there was no justification in keeping the accused lot on remand with no signs as to when their trial shall start.
Prosecutors had admitted they did not know when they were set to travel to the United States of America, Holland and Mauritius to further their investigations.
“The factors the court found in this application is the extent of delay, the reason for delay, the seriousness of the charge, the prejudice of the state, the adverse interest of the public.
“This is a clear case the refusal of remand should be granted; the accused persons have been on remand for more than six months,” Manuwere said.
The magistrate said the state had asked for a month since August last year to complete investigations into the matter but failed.
“This means the state cannot proceed with the matter in this jurisdiction if they failed to get assistance from their extraterritorial investigations and the application is hereby granted,” ruled Manuwere.
Wadyajena was jointly charged with Cottco bosses, Pious Manamike, Maxmore Njanji, Fortunate Molai and Chiedza Danha.
They were being accused of fraud and money laundering after they allegedly diverted into their own use, US$5,834,000 meant to buy bale ties for government’s cotton merchant.
The state alleged they instead diverted the funds towards buying haulage trucks, fuel and an assortment of other purchases for personal use.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority, Wadyajena and the parastatal’s bosses created a local firm identical to a Mauritius-based company which they allegedly used to get orders for Carbon Bale Ties, which were to be used by Cottco.
Cottco never received the bales as agreed.
Some of the money was reportedly used to import 25 trucks from a USA company called Giant Equipment in 2019 and 2020.
The trucks were seized as part of police investigations.
Two posh cars belonging to Wadyajena were also intercepted and seized at Beitbridge border post, amid claims they were being taken to South Africa to prevent authorities from seizing them.