A Kwekwe resident magistrate was yesterday jailed for an effective 15 months and a clerk of court an effective nine months for criminal abuse of office after fraudulently releasing an impounded vehicle.
Story Rushambwa (50), who has been Kwekwe resident magistrate for the last five years, was given 30 months, with 15 months suspended while Clerk of Court Bright Mpiyabo (47) was given 15 months with six months suspended.
The two had pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal abuse of office as public officers but regional magistrate Taurai Manwere, sitting in the Midlands Anti-Corruption Court in Gweru, convicted them.
In October 2019, a Toyota Hilux vehicle was impounded by the police anti-corruption unit as an exhibit after it was fraudulently imported and held at the Zimra Kwekwe offices for customs management and as an exhibit in the trial at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court.
Rushambwa and Mpiyabo planned to release the vehicle after John Mapurazi applied for this on December 2019.
Mpiyabo withheld the record relating to the application and on December 31, 2019, submitted it to Rushambwa who was on leave.
Rushambwa went on to grant a final order for the release of the vehicle to Mapurazi who was represented by Shepherd Tundiya, who is not a legal practitioner.
Mpiyabo handed over the order to Tundiya.
The State was however, prejudiced of revenue in the form of customs duty and possible loss of the State case at the Bulawayo trial since the vehicle was an exhibit.
Two years ago, officer in charge CID Gweru, Detective Inspector Leonard Gwandu was dismissed from work and later convicted on abuse of office charges after he fraudulently released a vehicle to Tundiya, a well-known car dealer based in Kwekwe.
Hellen Khosa and Romeo Zibani appeared for the State in the latest incident, in which Tundiya is also involved.