The trial of a Harare lawyer, Plumtree regional magistrate and prosecutor involved in high profile $1 million gold theft case kicked off at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday.
They are linked to the stolen 28 kilogrammes of gold, worth about $1 million that was stolen at Plumtree Police station in July this year and later seized at the Plumtree border to Botswana by the Minerals and Border Control Unit.
The trio were arrested for allegedly abusing office and defeating course of justice to aid the illegal gold syndicate involved in the theft.
In the ongoing trial, a total of 11 judicial officers including prominent Advocate Thabani Mpofu are handling the high profile case, with most lawyers representing the defendants.
The number of defendants including Harare lawyer -Admire Rubaya, Plumtree magistrate -Timeon Makunde and prosecutor – Stanley Chinyanganya has risen to 10 while the state said it had a number of witnesses lined up as well.
The other defendants are Sidingumuzi Ncube, Jefat Chaganda, Tyson Ruvando, Godfrey Makuvadze, Ladisslous Tambooneyi, Ladislous Timacho and Ginger Vhiyano.
Rubaya, Makunde and Chinyanya were arrested after investigations revealed they allegedly received cash bribes from Chaganda who had misrepresented that he was the owner of the gold.
It was alleged by the state that when Chaganda was arrested and taken to court and during his trial, representations were made to the court that through Qalo Syndicate he was the purported owner of the gold and secured a court order to release the gold.
This was possible after Chaganda connived with Rubaya, who he had engaged as his lawyer to use fake evidence in court.
Acting on the false evidence, the prosecutor was accused of not having performed due diligence while the magistrate acquitted him.
When Chaganda was acquitted, he then sold it to Fidelity Printers and Refiners for US$358 000, some of it which was allegedly used to pay cash bribes to the lawyer, magistrate and prosecutor.
“From the US$358 000 cash that was made from the gold sale, US$161 000 was deposited into Sibanda’s ZB account 4302314201. Rubaya in the company of Sibanda and Chaganda then left for Sibanda’s place of residence where he was given US$122 000 for his service and $60 000 for the magistrate and US$40 000 for the prosecutor,” read the state outline when the trio initially appeared in court.
High Court Judge Martin Makonese is presiding over the matter.