Nyore Madzianike, Harare Bureau
A FORMER personal assistant to a Cabinet Minister allegedly swindled the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) of more than 19 000 litres of fuel and a vehicle after misrepresenting that his boss needed to go to Cyclone Idai hit areas.
Cephas Chiwetu, who was employed as personal assistant to Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, got the fuel and a Ford Ranger on the pretext that the Minister needed to visit cyclone-hit areas in Chimanimani and Chipinge many times but used the fuel and vehicle for his own errands.
Chiwetu appeared in court last Thursday charged with defrauding Zinara of 19 248 litres of fuel and a Ford Ranger.
He appeared before Harare regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya facing charges of fraud and criminal abuse of office as a public officer.
Chiwetu was not asked to plead and was released on $3 000 bail.
According to the State, Chiwetu’s duties during the time he was employed as Minister Matiza’s personal assistant, involved liaising with the principal executive assistant or private secretary pertaining to the minister’s diary.
He was also said to be responsible for accompanying the minister to his constituency, taking care of his belongings, coordinating with his aides and doing some of his errands.
It is the State’s case that between March 26 to May 31, 2019, Chiwetu acted contrary and inconsistent with his duties as a public officer by originating requests for fuel purporting that Minister Matiza needed fuel for his trips to Cyclone Idai damaged places.
After making the requests, Chiwetu is alleged to have converted the fuel to personal use.
The court heard that during the time he requested the fuel from Zinara, he was fully aware that Minister Matiza was receiving fuel from his ministry.
It is alleged that Zinara lost $65 925 worth of fuel reportedly requested by Chiwetu.
Magistrate Mujaya heard that sometime in March last year, Chiwetu misrepresented to the Zinara director administration and human resources Precious Murove that the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development was in urgent need of a car.
He reportedly told Murove that the vehicle was needed by Minister Matiza for use during the Cyclone Idai programmes in Chimanimani.
Acting upon the misrepresentation, Murove is said to have hired a Ford Ranger from CherlEthan Travel Services from March 26 to May 31 of last year.
The court heard that the car was delivered to Chiwetu and he started using it for personal business.