Harare Magistrate Florence Chakanyuka has acquitted Harare City and Pokugara Properties bosses who were jointly accused of malicious damage to property after the close of the State’s case.
Zvenyika Chawatama, Samuel Nyabeze, Lasten Taonezvi all from the City of Harare were acquitted together with Pokugara Properties representative Marlone Ndebele and former Pokugara general manager Michael Van Blerk.
The acquitted officials were facing allegations of ordering the destruction of a show house in Borrowdale that was built with a fraudulently obtained building plan.
It emerged that the house was built by the complainant George Katsimberis through a joint venture agreement with Pokugara Properties to build clusters houses in Borrowdale.
Chakanyuka said the state led by Zivanai Macharaga failed to prove a prima facie case against them because it failed to prove that the demolition order issued by council was invalid and that there was no evidence led to challenge the order.
She further said the joint venture was invalidated by the High Court and it left the complainant with less power to challenge the demolition.
The witness Roy Nyabvure’s testimony was marred with bitterness and could not provide clear evidence on who approved that building plan said the Magistrate in her ruling.
She said there was no evidence submitted before the court to prove the building plans had been widely circulated to all departments for approval.
“The joint venture was invalidated and this has left the complainant with less control over the structure.
“There is no evidence led in court on who approved the plan. There is no evidence to show the plan went through all the City of Harare departments before it could be approved,” Chakanyuka said in acquitting the accused persons.
Chakanyuka also acquitted the City bosses of an alternative charge of criminal abuse of office saying no evidence led to show any fraud and criminal liability on the part of Pokugara and its representatives.
Only two witnesses testified in this matter, Katsimberis and Nyabvure.
Katsimberis had built the showhouse in a joint venture agreement with Pokugara properties but the building was condemned after it was discovered that the plan was fraudulently obtained and the materials used were not recommended or approved by Council under the Regional Town and Country planning Act.