Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
FORMER Midlands State University (MSU) bursar Mamelo Moyo and her husband Melusi, who formed a briefcase company that saw the institution of higher learning being swindled of more than US$150 000 through unprocedural business transactions, have approached the High Court challenging their conviction.
Mamelo and Melusi, who is also the university’s former acting director of works, prejudiced the university of US$154 393,05 in underhand dealings.
The couple connived and flouted tender processes by awarding a deal for the supply of stationery and chickens at uncompetitive prices to a private firm in which they had interests.
They were convicted on charges of corruptly concealing from a principal, a personal interest by Gweru regional magistrate Mr Morgan Nemadire and sentenced to five years jail each.
The magistrate suspended two years from their sentence on condition that they pay US$4 000 each and a further three years were suspended for five years on condition that they do not within that period commit a similar offence.
Mamelo and Melusi, through their lawyers Mutuso, Taruvinga and Mhiribidi Attorneys, filed a notice of appeal against conviction.
In their grounds of appeal, they argued that the magistrate erred by failing to appreciate that corruption was an essential element of the offence and that the State did not place any evidence of corruption before the court.
They said there was no evidence before the court to prove intention to deceive.
“The court a quo erred and misdirected itself at law by making unfathomable credibility findings on the evidence of accomplice witnesses who had a motive to exaggerate,” argued the lawyers.
Mamelo and Melusi said the court misdirected itself by ignoring the fact that there was an acrimonious relationship between themselves and the university council chairman.
“Failure by the State to call the evidence of the council chairman in rebuttal of the appellants’ defence was a misdirection on the part of the court a quo.
“The magistrate further erred by failing to consider that the appellants had no hand in the awarding of the tenders,” said the lawyers.
They argued that they did not participate in adjudication processes in respect of all the 24 transactions.
According to court papers, it was stated that between September 11, 2014, and September 25, 2015, the couple made supplies to MSU via Netabelt Investments through a tender process as well as the competitive quotation bidding process without having declared their interests to the university in violation of the institution’s financial regulations.
Mamelo authorised for 14 of the 19 transactions which were made to Netabelt Investments via bank transfers into its CBZ account.
On October 26, 2015, MSU represented by Mr Erasmus Mupfiga, got a tip-off that the two had an undisclosed relationship with one of the university’s suppliers of stationery and computer accessories called Netabelt Investments Pvt Limited.
The institution then called Deloitte and Touche to investigate the relationship between the couple and the company.
On realising that procurement procedures of the university were about to be audited, Mamelo completed declaration of conflicts form and declared that Melusi was her husband and director of Netabelt Investments Pvt Limited.
Mamelo also brought a declaration of conflicts form completed by her husband declaring he was the director of the company. She went on and forced her two subordinates Nyaradzai Kutsira and Jonathan Satande to sign in the forms as witnesses.
The audit, however, disclosed that Melusi also had 30 transactions through Netabelt Investment (Pvt) Limited worth $154 393,05 with MSU for the supply of stationery and food which were preceded through competitive quotation bidding process. Mamelo would authorise the payments made to the company.
A report was made to the police leading to the couple’s arrest. – @mashnets