Vic Falls Mayor granted bail

By Judith Sibanda

Victoria Falls mayor, Somvelo Dhlamini, who was last week arrested for allegedly selling an underdeveloped council stand for US$20 000 without title deeds, has been granted ZW$1 500 bail by resident magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa.

Dhlamini, residing at council house number 503, Acacia Road was detained by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) at his home on Saturday night and spent the weekend in jail.

He made a brief appearance in court Monday where he was expected to answer to charges of criminal abuse of office.

The allegations are that during his 2013 term of office as MDC Ward 9 councillor, he was allocated by the Victoria Falls Municipality a residential stand measuring 1 120 square meters at stand number 756 Aerodrome area at 40 percent discount which was supposed to be paid before the expiry of his term of office in 2018.

The terms of the sale according to circular number 12 of 2016 was that the councillors were prohibited from selling or ceding the lease during their terms of office, or title deeds could not be issued until the development of the home was complete.

They were only to be given offer letters.

Instead of abiding by the conditions set by the Ministry of Local Governance, Cllr Dhlamini decided to sell his undeveloped stand to Memory Buhle Sithole for a purchase price of US$ 20 000.

The accused had corruptly forged a title deed which was used by one Sithole to acquire a loan from Cabs bank.

After the approval, Sithole allegedly went to make direct payment of US$ 7 962 (40 percent) discount to Council.

Investigations also established that at the time of sale of the stand, there had not been any developments on the stand made by Dhlamini.

Council argues that since Dhlamini had not made a single effort to pay for the stand, or develop it, they would have sold the same stand at US$ 20 000 to the applicant who had been on the waiting list considering that his term of office was about to come to an end, and they had the right to repossess it if it was not paid for in five years.

Dhlamini made a gain of US$ 12 038 through the sale.

He will appear before the same magistrate on February 25 for further remand.

As part of the bail conditions, Cllr Dhlamini is expected to report to police every Monday and was ordered to surrender his passport.

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