Former Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede was hauled before a magistrate on Thursday charged with theft of irrigation equipment and kitchen utensils worth US$10,000 from a woman he had evicted from a farm.
Mudede used Support Unit officers from Rhodesville Police Station in Harare to carry out the eviction, bragging that he was absolutely untouchable given his high office, the court heard.
Prosecutors said Mudede stole the property from Jacqueline Mukanganyama, with whom he has been embroiled in a land boundary dispute at Ballinettey Farm, Mazowe West, where the two were resettled under the land reform programme years ago.
Mukanganyama bought the irrigation equipment after being allocated Plot No. 10, measuring 70 hectares, at the property in 2002, and took “caretakership of the homestead and all the land.”
On the other hand, Mudede, who was allocated Plot No. 1 and five other subdivisions measuring 712.64 hectares in 2007, started encroaching, leading to “a heated boundary dispute between him and the neighbours who included the complainant.”
The former records keeper “then forcefully occupied the farmhouse which was at the boundary of the complainant’s farm and state land which were all under the caretakership of the complainant.”
“The accused evicted the complainant and took the irrigation equipment at the farm which included aluminum pipes, mono pump [20 hose power], submersible pump, and plates which belonged to the complainant saying that he was the Registrar General and nothing could be done to him. Thus he knew or realized that the complainant was entitled to own or control the property,” prosecutors charged.
When Mukanganyama tried to recover her property, prosecutors said, Mudede enlisted “the services of the then officer-in-charge of Rhodesville Police Station Inspector Mwenje” who showed up with “officers from the Support Unit to intimidate and assault the complainant and her workers.”
“By so doing, the accused clearly showed the intention to deprive the complainant permanently of her ownership of the property. The accused had no lawful right to take the property,” the State alleged, adding nothing was recovered.
Harare magistrate Dennis Mangosi remanded the accused out of custody on free bail. He was not asked to plead.
Mudede has faced somewhat similar charges with resettled farmers accusing him of encroachment and grabbing their land arbitrarily – again telling them he is untouchable.
The farmers, comprising mainly war veterans, widows, and civil servants, say while the accused only initially showed interest in a game conservancy claiming he had a “shavi rekuvhima [hunting spirit]”, he has clashed with several of them as he aggressively pushes his way into their territories, seizing boreholes and other critical infrastructure.
One of the complainants Roti Gadzika approached the High Court last month seeking an order interdicting Mudede from taking over her land.
Gadzika, who occupies Plot 14 measuring 375 hectares, said she had lost 60 hectares to Mudede who encroached onto her territory and tapped into her electricity and water, effectively locking her out.-ZimLive