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GMB officials, villager acquitted

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MATABELELAND North Grain Marketing Board (GMB) officials and a villager who were facing charges of defrauding the parastatal of 30 metric tonnes of maize, were on Friday found not guilty and acquitted at the close of the State’s case.

SILAS NKALA
STAFF REPORTER

Samuel Bango (30), Haruziviishe Zishiri (35) and Sihle Tshabalala (42) were denying the charge when they appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Crispen Mberewere.

Mberewere found them not guilty and acquitted them after the State failed to prove its case against them.
Their acquittal comes after almost a month after Matabeleland North GMB provincial manager Petronela Nkomazana, also facing the same charge, was acquitted due to lack of evidence linking her to the crime.

That was after witnesses called to testify against her exonerated her as they never mentioned her name at any juncture during the proceedings.

Bango, Zishiri and Tshabalala were put on trial after they were named in the alleged maize scandal.
But Tshabalala’s lawyer Dumisani Dube said when the alleged fraud was committed she was out of the country in South Africa and produced her passport, which showed that she crossed the border before the alleged fraud occurred.

Bango and Zishiri also distanced themselves from the fraud.
Allegations were that on November 20 2010 Bongo, a clerk with GMB Binga, Zishiri, a Binga GMB depot assistant and Tshabalala, not employed, connived to raise GMB grain receipt number 29996 with a tonnage of 30 225 metric tonnes of maize grain valued at $8 311,88 in the name of one Thokozile Tshabalala at GMB Lusulu in Binga.

Bango then allegedly signed and confirmed the receipt as a true delivery of the grain at the Binga depot.
It is the State’s case that Lynnah Ndagurwa, a GMB accounts clerk based at Belmont depot, raised petty cash requisition vouchers in respect of the grain delivered in the name of Thokozile Tshabalala and handed it to Patili Nkomo, an accounts clerk at Belmont depot in Bulawayo, so she could pay Thokozile.

After being allegedly instructed by Larden Beck Nkala, the provincial accountant, Nkomo paid Tshabalala, who was
masquerading as Thokozile in respect of grain receipt 29996 which had been delivered at GMB Lusulu depot.
The anomaly was discovered and investigations led to the arrest of Bongo, Zishiri, Sihle and Nkala, who was later considered a State witness in the case, and nothing was recovered.

It was established that Thokozile who purportedly delivered the maize did not exist hence the three were accused of prejudicing GMB of $8 311, 88.

A report was made to the police, leading to their arrest.
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