Three Roman Catholic employees were summoned to court yesterday for allegedly squandering more than US$500 000 meant for humanitarian relief.

Cornelius Hamadziripi, 49, Dadirayi Nyamasuka, 34, and Wonder Mufunda, 40, were remanded to October 10 by regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa.

The complainant is Zimbabwe Council of Bishops Conference (ZCBC), represented by Father Fradreck Chiromba.

Hamadziripi is national director of Caritas Zimbabwe, Nyamasuka the finance administrator and Mufunda the programmes coordinator.

ZCBC is the administrator of all Catholic departments including Caritas, whose mandate is providing humanitarian aid to vulnerable and needy communities, emergency response and relief work in Zimbabwe.

Sometime in 2013, Caritas presented a project proposal to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development seeking funds to assists of political violence during 22013 harmonised elections.

They received US$30 400, which was to be released upon approval by an emergency response committee chaired by David Lukio.

The relative peace in the elections did not warrant release of funds and the whole amount was supposed to be sent back to Cafod but the accused persons only remitted US$4 999,20, the court head.

A forensic audit established that US$25 400 was converted by Hamadziripi and accomplices to their own use, the court head.

In a bid to cover the offence, the accused persons allegedly misrepresented that US$12 800 was distributed to eight dioceses and produced fictitious disbursement sheets.

When the dioceses were interviewed, they denied receiving the cash. It was further alleged that the accused persons would award themselves advance salaries which would not be paid back but written off the end of each financial year.

As a result, they withdrew US$174 004,63 in advance salaries, the court heard.

Between January 4,2012 and January 2014, and on 60 different occasions, the accused persons allegedly withdrew US$208 586 purporting to fund the petty cash account.

A total of US$525 410,05 was lost and nothing was recovered.