Vic Falls Town Clerk in court for abuse of office

By Tinashe Mungazi

The Victoria Falls Town Clerk Ronnie Dube appeared before a Hwange magistrate Thursday, facing a charge of criminal abuse of office with the defense arguing that his arrest was unlawful.

Dube (54), was arrested yesterday afternoon for allegedly influencing the awarding of a commercial stand to tourism operator, Shearwater in violation of tender procedures.

He was remanded in custody by Hwange Provincial Magistrate, Gladmore Mushove after his lawyer Matshobana Ncube of Ncube and Partners applied against his placement on remand arguing that his arrest was unlawful.

“The state should go and investigate these things that appear in the minutes because they cannot sensibly come to this court and make gratuitous allegations which are removed from what actually transpired on the ground as are captured in the minutes of Victoria Falls council. Therefore, there is no basis to have the accused placed on remand the state will have to put its house in order first by investigating first the things accused is facing before coming to this court alleging the accused has committed a crime,” said Ncube.

The prosecution argued that since the defence had raised important issues in their application it needed more time to prepare a response given the time factor.

“This is a serious matter and the issues outlined by defense are serious and we need to time to respond and collect evidence from the investigating officer,” said the prosecution led by Martha Cheda.

Ronnie Dube (in grey Tshirt) arriving in court

However, in placing Dube in custody Mushove said she had to agree with the state on the seriousness of the case and give it more time to respond to the issues raised by the defense.

“I would say in as much as accused has rights. It would be unfair to rush the state to respond. It is the duty of this court to uphold the law and see that justice is served. Given the seriousness of the matter and considering the time factor that we started late I will allow the state to respond to the application. This matter is remanded to tomorrow, ” she said.

The state alleges that on 28 September 2017, Dube received a request to purchase additional land behind stands 1381, 1382, 1383, 1384, 1385, 1386 and 943 from Ntokozo Mlilo, group human resources manager for Shearwater Adventures.

It is further alleged that Dube then caused for the evaluation of the stand by Becktone P/L who responded to him on 11 February 2019 with the value of the stand.

He went on to misrepresent to Victoria Falls ordinary full council meeting through a Town Clerk’s report, that one applicant Shearwater had expressed interest to acquire a commercial stand number 1782, Victoria Falls yet in the actual fact there were other companies that had also expressed interest such as Wild Horizons. Council adopted the report and resolved to offer it to Shearwater without following tender procedures as required by the 1 April 2014 council resolution which required that commercial stands be sold on tender.

The state said Dube in the exercise of his duties or functions as such, intentionally influenced Council through his report to sell a commercial stand 1782 without following tender procedures which was inconsistent with his duties as a public officer.

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