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State's key witness disowns police evidence

by Staff reporter
17 Jul 2021 at 19:35hrs | Views
A star witness in the corruption trial of CAPS United boss and businessman Farai Jere stunned a court on Friday after disowning police evidence which saw two employees of the power utility ZESA being charged.

Francis Masawi, a consultant hired by ZESA to review a US$3.5 million tender for the supply of smart meters - won by Jere's Helcraw company - said he did not understand why Leonard Chisina, a ZESA engineer, and Freeman Kuziva Chikonzo, a senior IT manager at the state-owned company, ended up in the dock as Jere's co-accused.

Masawi, the state's star witness. disowned a report used by police to arrest the trio, purportedly written by him. He told magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa that he saw the report for the first time at the police station.

Masawi said if the police had used his report he prepared as team leader of ZESA's internal review of the tender, Chisina and Chikonzo would not have been arrested because they performed their duties professionally.

"The documents I saw at the police station were not signed, and had no dates. Now I'm seeing documents that were not done by me. If they used my report, Chisina and Chikonzo could not have been arrested," Masawi said.

Helcraw was awarded a contract to supply 1,151 smart meters to ZESA unit, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). The tender required that the factory acceptance test (FAT) be done at the factory where the meters were to be manufactured.

Prosecutors say Jere misrepresented to ZETDC that his supplier, Secure Meters (Pvt) Ltd, had a manufacturing plant for smart meters in the United Kingdom, resulting in four of the power utility's employees travelling to the United Kingdom in November 2018 to carry out the FAT.

Jere allegedly took the four ZESA employees, including engineers, to a warehouse with smart meters and not a factory. The meters in the warehouse had a base of 10 amps and maximum current of 120 amps. Tests on the head end system allegedly failed.

Jere, the court heard, produced a fake FAT report to the effect that the meters met the required standards by ZETDC and he asked the four ZESA employees to sign it.

Chisina and Chikonzo signed the FAT report, while engineers Julius Mapipi and Munyaradzi Tshuma expressed reservations and refused to sign.

After returning to Zimbabwe, it is alleged Chisina removed Mapipi and Tshuma from the project before Jere went ahead with the shipment of 1,151 meters for which he was paid US$3,566,878 by the power utility.

ZESA was forced to remove the meters from its network.

Masawi said he was shocked to read an article in the media that Chisina and Chikonzo were suspended over a matter involving the electrical company Helcraw.

"I totally disagreed with that conclusion. I requested that Chisina and Chikonzo should could call me as a witness to their disciplinary hearings since I'm the real author of that report, as team leader of the assignment, which was clearly taken out of context," Masawi testified.

Masawi said he could not speak for Jere and Helcraw, because his mandate had only been to review the actions of Chisina and Chikonzo.

Jere and his co-accused deny corruption, arguing that the FAT was conducted in accordance with what was agreed in the contract with ZESA.

Through his lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, the CAPS United president maintains that there were no specific terms of reference and the FAT was undertaken on the basis of best practice and international standards.

"The FAT was for the purpose of ensuring that what was manufactured was the same as the sample that was provided at adjudication, subject to any agreed changes. The factory test results were machine-generated and could thus not be fake," Uriri argued in the joint defence outline.

"The results were known to all and what is now complained of was recorded."

The three men argue that adjudicators passed the samples supplied by Helcraw Electrical by 93 percent.

The prosecution argues that the trio lied that FAT tests were conducted at a factory and thus defrauded ZESA.

Magistrate Gofa postponed the trial to July 19.

Source - zimlive

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