`Former Chitungwiza Housing director, Jemina Gumbo, who was accused of corruptly allocating commercial stands to various people and organisations, including Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, has been acquitted.

Gumbo was facing 22 counts of criminal abuse of duty as she was accused of allocating stands without following laid down procedures. However, she was cleared of all the allegations before High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese. Through her lawyer, Admire Rubaya of Nyamushaya, Kasuso and Rubaya Legal Practitioners, Gumbo denied the allegations as frivolous and malicious allegations that were aimed at plotting her downfall.

It was alleged that between 2008 and 2011, Gumbo allocated stands to individuals and organisations she favoured without publishing them in the local newspapers as required under the section 152 of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:13.

It was alleged that on 23 December 2008, she sold commercial stand number 19762 to Hwamanda Production and that on November 16 she also sold stand number 19743 to Silva Simau. It was further alleged that in 2009, she allocated 10 stands to different organisations including Penyama Investments, which benefited two stands on 16 February and 25 March.

It was claimed that Gumbo allocated two stands to flamboyant Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s church, United Fellowship International Church on 7 November 2008 and another one on 8 July. The council had reportedly approved the construction of a stadium and hotel on the two stands that were allocated to the celebrated prophet.

Long Range Investments was said to have also bought two stands which were meant for a market and a playground. Gumbo allegedly allocated the Watchtower Bible Society a stand, which was set aside for a shopping centre. She was also accused of allocating a recreational open space to Foldstalk Investments, which turned it into a shopping complex.

The State further said that according to the Regional,Town and Country Planning Act, the application for change of use of the stands was supposed to have been made by Chitungwiza Municipality, the owner of the land.

However, Gumbo denied ever abusing her official duty in the manner alleged by the State. She said she never acted contrary to or showed any favour to any individuals or organisations. Gumbo told the court that she would sign on her own lawful documents relating to her office and in her absence, there would be a deputy to act on her behalf and sign all relevant lawful documents.

In his closing submissions, Rubaya submitted that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against his client. He said a criminal trial is not a fishing expedition in which the State hopes that along the way the accused would convict himself out of his own mouth.

“This is a classical failed fishing expedition where the State has failed to even catch a small frog,” the lawyer blasted.

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