HARARE Mayor Herbert Gomba has been arrested on charges related to land scams and is expected to appear in court today.
Gomba was reportedly picked up by the police on Monday night and was yesterday still assisting police with investigations into land scams and deals that have already seen council officials arrested and remanded in court.
His arrest comes as President Mnangagwa urged the justice system to step up the fight against corruption and bring an end to the “catch-and-release syndrome,” while the arrest of “small and big fish” should become the new normal.
The head of Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) Mr Thabani Mpofu confirmed Gomba’s arrest.
“Yes, police have arrested Gomba and are recording his statements. The charges have to do with land scams,” he said. “He will appear in court tomorrow (today) and in some of the charges he is being jointly charged with other council officials who have already been arrested.”
Harare has seen a batch of officials, two at the top director level, arrested. At the basis of the charges are allegations that 150 stands were created in Kuwadzana from open spaces and sold for private gain, along with other stands in other areas. On top of that are allegations that police officers ranging in rank from constable to assistant commissioner, and a chief public prosecutor, did not push forward with investigations and prosecutions of some of those suspected and were paid off with stands in Westlea.
The police officers and public prosecutor have also been arrested and have appeared in court.
Harare officials arrested over the past weeks and have appeared in court on corruption charges include the housing director Addmore Nhekairo who is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office, an allegation arising from his approval of the Westlea stand allocations. He was denied bail on Monday.
Acting human resources director Matthew Marara and principal housing director Edgar Dzehonye, with other co-accused, also appeared in court and were denied bail.
They were allegedly involved in the Kuwadzana scam, prejudicing council of US$1 141 779. Dzehonye is facing a charge of criminal abuse of office while Marara (49) is facing a fraud charge along with Aaron Tayerera (48), who is the acting chief clerical officer.
Marara and Tayerera are charged with fraudulently selling council land in Strathaven for US$20 900 to an unsuspecting land seeker and pocketing the money.
The court refused bail citing significant risks that Marara and co-accused Tayerera would abscond and that Nhekairo would likely interfere with a crucial prosecution witness.
Combined Harare Residents Association director Mrs Loreen Mupasiri-Sani said the association has always been against corruption and believe that everyone who is involved should be brought to book regardless of their position.
“We expect that even other officials who are involved should also be brought to book and due diligence done so that there is fairness and objectivity in terms of dealing with the matter,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trust, Mr Shepherd Chikomba wants a full independent audit of councils to find out precisely who did what and when.
“As residents we want an independent auditor to audit these councils and hope investigations are going to be carried out on a non-partisan level because corruption is killing our once sunshine city,” he said. herald