Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
AN accounts clerk at Hwange Local Board (HLB) has been arrested for allegedly defrauding the local authority of close to $200 000.
Maxwell Kwidini (29) of Empumalanga suburb in Hwange allegedly transferred the money from the local authority’s two bank accounts to his personal account on four occasions between December last year and February this year.
Kwidini allegedly transferred $33 954 to his account on December 2 last year and another $142 810,64 on December 30.
The money was supposed to be paid to Soms and Lo Digital who had been contracted to supply an iPhone XS for the Town Secretary Mr Ndumiso Mdlalose and 14 tablets for HLB councillors.
The accused allegedly delivered the gadgets instead of the supplier doing so, and the local authority did not get receipts or delivery notes for the purchases.
On two other two counts, Kwidini allegedly separately transferred $4 267 and $5 175 from the local authority’s bank account to his personal account claiming the money was for his fuel, travel and subsistence allowances for attending a procurement meeting in Harare although he did not attend any.
Kwidini, who is out of custody on his own cognisance to Monday next week, pleaded not guilty to four counts of fraud when he appeared before Hwange magistrate Ms Rangarirai Gakanje.
The State led evidence from HLB Town Secretary Mr Ndumiso Mdlalose, Human Resources Officer Mr Mhlupheki Mlilo and Internal Auditor Mr Freetime Khuphe.
Mr Mdlalose said the 14 tablets and iPhone were delivered by Kwidini instead of the supplier and the council did not receive receipts hence is not aware of the actual cost of the gadgets.
He said the items were procured without going to tender because the amounts involved were below the legal threshold compelling tendering process.
The accused’s lawyer Ms Linda Mthombeni of Dube, Nkala and Company applied for discharge at the close of the State’s case saying Kwidini acted above board because the transfers were authorised.
“All what the accused did was in the scope of his duties as authorities appended their signatures. They cannot now deny having issued instructions for the transactions as their own signatures were appended on the transfer forms. HLB was not prejudiced as the tablets were delivered and as regards count four the local board is aware the money was reimbursed. It is in light of this that the defence humbly asks that the court discharges the accused at the close of the State’s case,” said Ms Mthombeni.
Kwidini reimbursed $5 175.
The prosecutor Mr John Chisango Mutyakaviri is expected to respond to the application for discharge today before the magistrate makes ruling on Monday next week when the case continues.
The prosecutor said the offences came to light in February after the finance director noticed an unauthorised transfer on the bank statement and an internal audit confirmed the fraud in March.
“On the first count on the 2nd day of December 2019, the accused unlawfully transferred $33 954 from Hwange Local Board CABS account number. The accused was supposed to transfer the money to Soms and Lo Digital for payment of the purchase of an iPhone XS for the Town Secretary,” said the prosecutor.
The total amount defrauded was $186 206.64.