Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
PROMINENT Gweru businesswoman and property developer, Smelly Dube, chief executive officer of River Valley Properties has been arrested on allegations of illegal acquisition and sale of State land.
Dube was arrested while admitted to a local private hospital and is now under police guard at the health institution.
She becomes the first high-profile land developer in the Midlands province to be arrested over land issues.
Dube’s company developed and sold stands in Hartfordshire Phase 1 and 2, Subdivision 4 of Gwelo Small Holdings (Woodlands Phase 1 and 2) in Gweru. Some people have already constructed houses on that land.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said:
“Yes, I can confirm that the police working with the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) have arrested a suspected Gweru land baron Smelly Dube on allegations of illegal acquisition and sale of State land.”
He said Dube was called for questioning on Tuesday but failed to show up and investigations led investigators to a private hospital in Gweru where she was seeking medical assistance.
“So, she was told that she was now under arrest and allowed to receive the treatment she requires but under police guard. She is expected in court today or Friday depending on her condition,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said Sacu was in the Midlands province to investigate illegal acquisition and sale of State land by councils, land barons and Government officials.
“Investigations are continuing in Midlands province as the team is looking into land scandals involving councils, land barons and Government officials,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Dube’s lawyer, Mr Nqobani Sithole yesterday said they had not been told the charges she was facing.
“My client was arrested while at a local hospital where she was receiving some medical attention. We haven’t been furnished with reasons or the supposed crime she committed. She is however in the hospital under police guard. We will advise you later,” he said.
The Sacu team has been in Gweru since Friday last week to investigate land scandals involving senior Government officials and land barons.
Some land barons in the Midlands province are alleged to have allocated people stands on wetlands and waterways where some houses were recently flooded resulting in some families losing their property.
The investigating team’s visit comes two weeks after the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Daniel Garwe toured settlements such as Woodlands Phase 1 and 2, Montrose and Ascot Extension in Gweru.
The Sacu team visited Ascot Extension where senior Government officials allocated 410 more residents stands under the Hlalani kuhle/ Garikai housing project.
The stands which were not approved by the Gweru City Council were developed in Ascot Extension wetlands, less than 20 metres from Gweru River.
There is a church under construction on the same illegal space, which is also not under the Gweru City Council layout plan.