CHIPINGE – Chipinge councilors are fuming after an internal hearing held at the council chambers acquitted the local authority’s water and waste superintendent Jeffrey Mwakachieyi on two charges of fraud.
A council subcommittee has already issued a resolution to reopen the case.
Several councilors told Chipinge Times that the hearing which was conducted recently was presided over by workers who are junior to the accused and therefore prejudiced. They pointed to a deliberate ploy by senior managers to sabotage disciplinary cases involving the superintendent and town secretary so that they return to work.
Mwakachieyi and town secretary Susan Dube are facing charges of corruption at Chipinge Magistrates Court. They were soon afterwards suspended by the local authority for the same charges.
Last week Mwakachieyi successfully applied for an alteration to his bail conditions so that he could return to work after the internal hearing found him not guilty.
A general-purpose committee resolution in the hands of Chipinge Times says councilors have reservations over the outcome of the hearing. The resolution calls for the ruling to be revisited.
“Council withholds with reservation the disciplinary hearing outcome of Jeffrey Mwakachieyi on the charge of contravening the code of conduct section 12.5.1 (b) of theft or stealing where the disciplinary hearing committee found the accused not guilty of the charge and council still need to revisit its verdict pending the State case against the accused who is on bail term facing the same charge,” reads the recommendation.
Mwakachieyi was arrested in February over two cases of abuse of duty and he is in one of the counts jointly charged with the Dube. In the first count, he unlawfully and corruptly collected 36×6 x 25 mm PVC pipes, 2x 32/25 mm reducer, 2×20 mm valves, 1×15 mm pipes and 1x500ml solvent cement from council stores and used them to connect water to Stephen Gavhumendi’s farm.
On the second count, he took PVC pipes valued at US$639 from the council stores and laid them from the prison farm to Dube’s farm.
His is being represented by Langton Mhungu.
“We apply for the alteration of bail conditions, in particular that the accused is ordered not to visit Chipinge Town council offices until investigations are finalised. The basis of the application is that there are changes in circumstances, a disciplinary hearing was conducted against the accused by his employer, Chipinge town council and he was found not guilty and he was acquitted. He received a correspondent from his employer that he should resume his duties. I submit that in the interest of justice the condition be relaxed in order for him to resume his duties,” said the lawyer.
Resident Magistrate Franklin Mkwananzi granted the order.
Other bail conditions for Mwakachieyi are that he reports to Chipinge ZRP twice per week, not to interfere with state witnesses and continue residing on the same place of residence.