By Court Reporter
HARARE Magistrate Hosea Mujaya has jailed theiving Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) finance director Simon Taranhike 30 months after finding him guilty of charges of criminal abuse of office.
Taranhike was on suspension during the trial period and will now serve an effective 15 months after Mujaya suspended half of his sentence.
The Zirana executive was accused of unlawfully giving away 1 800 litres worth of petrol to a State media journalist in unclear circumstances.
Mujaya also ordered Taranhike to restitute the fuel.
“A clear message that courts do not condone corruption should be sent to the nation. Corruption is cancer to the society which needs to be eradicated,” Magistrate Mujaya said.
For the State prosecutor Netsai Mushayabasa had demanded a harsh sentence for Taranhike arguing he had tarnished the parastatal’s image.
“The accused caused loss of public funds as a result of his actions tarnishing the image of Zinara in the process. Appropriate sentence in these circumstances is effective custodial sentence,” Mushayabasa said.
It was proven in court that Taranhike abused his authority to put pressure on his subordinate, Zinara’s transport clerk Dennis Jaricha to unprocedurally release the fuel coupons, ignoring procedure.
He State told the Court that on April 1, Zinara’s finance manager Anywhere Mudodo summoned Jaricha to his office.
“When Jaricha arrived at the office, he found Mudodo in the company of Taranhike, and accountant expenditure Stephen Matute,” reads the State outline.
Allegations were also that Taranhike ordered Jaricha to explain the procedure of issuing fuel to external stakeholders, with him explaining that procedure entails request from user, recommendation from administration manager and approval of the chief executive officer.
The now convicted Taranhike then instructed Jaricha to release 1 800 litres of fuel coupons to the journalist.
Taranhike was accused of taking advantage of the absence of then chief executive officer Mathlene Mujokoro and admin manager Peter Boterere were away on the day to steal from Zinara.
Jaricha advised Taranhike to inquire from the chief executive officer’s personal assistant Rennie Humanikwa if approval to issue fuel to an external stakeholder could be granted.
Humanikwa indicated that she had no capacity to approve the request since her office had not yet received the request, court heard.
Taranhike then insisted that Jaricha issues the fuel and under enormous pressure, the latter tried to contact Boterere who was not answering his mobile phone.
On the same day, Taranhike went to Mudodo’s office and advised him that the journalist will come and collect the fuel from a local fuel company.
He also directed Mudodo to contact the scribe and inform him to come and collect the petrol coupons.
The journalist then drove to the Zinara offices in Highlands where Mudodo led him to the boardroom before he was handed coupons by Jaricha.
The State said the scribe signed the issue voucher and fuel requisition book to acknowledge of receipt.
On the same day Mujokoro received a phone call informing her about the release before ordering Jaricha to write a report.
As a result, the State said Zinara suffered actual prejudice of $6 354 and nothing was recovered.