Tendai Rupapa, Harare Bureau
The State yesterday confiscated former Cabinet Minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s mansion in Nyanga which he had surrended as surety, after he failed to appear at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts where he is facing four charges of criminal abuse of office.
The value of the upmarket property could not be ascertained at the time of going to press.
Three of the charges arose after Kasukuwere, when he was Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, allegedly fraudulently parcelled out vast tracks of State land to former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s sister, Shuvai Gumbochuma.
The other count was allegedly committed while he was the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, when he corruptly awarded a tender to a company called Brainworks Capital.
Kasukuwere was issued with an arrest warrant in January by regional magistrate, Mr Hoseah Mujaya, after he failed to appear in court for trial.
He had been given back his passport to enable him to travel to South Africa for medical attention after producing documents from his doctor confirming the medical check-up.
Kasukuwere was supposed to return the passport on January 17, and his failure to do so prompted the State to apply for an arrest warrant.
Representing the prosecution, Mr Zivanai Macharaga successfully applied to have the former minister’s Nyanga mansion forfeited to the State. He made an undertaking that in the event the order sought was granted, the State would give Kasukuwere 90 days to appear in court before disposing the property.
Kasukuwere’s lawyer, Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, instructed by Mr Charles Chinyama, opposed the application, arguing that the State had not led evidence in support of his client’s health condition.
He further argued that the State’s application was misplaced.After hearing submissions from both parties, Mr Mujaya ruled in favour of the State. “Whereupon after hearing arguments, it be and is hereby ordered that immovable property commonly called sub division D, Manchester, in the district of Umtali-Zimbabwe be forfeited to the State,” read the order.
Kasukuwere was granted $3 000 bail when he initially appeared in court and ordered to surrender title deeds to the Nyanga property, among other stringent conditions.
In his application for forfeiture on Thursday, Mr Macharaga told the court that if Kasukuwere was able to visit the hospital on a weekly basis, he was also able to visit the court on the days he was not seeing his doctor.
He then applied to have the Nyanga property forfeited to the State basing on section 133 (a) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
Adv Magwaliba opposed the application maintaining that Kasukuwere was unwell and would attend trial when he was fit.
“In January, the State chose to act in terms of section 119 when it applied for an arrest warrant,” he said. “They cannot jump and come in separate proceedings and seek to act in terms of section 133 which applies where no application was ever made by the prosecution.”