Ex-minister pleads not guilty as theft trial kicks off

HARARE – Sacked agriculture deputy minister Douglas Karoro, accused of stealing Presidential agricultural inputs, on Monday pleaded not guilty when his trial commenced before Harare magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa.

Karoro is jointly charged with Mugove Chidamba, Lovejoy Ngove, Jeremy Phiri and Dean Dzimunya.

All the suspects denied the allegations.

Karoro was fired from his lofty job recently after the alleged offence was unearthed.

Prosecutors allege the former government official stole 700 bags of fertiliser, US$18 000 worth of maize seed and 5 000 vegetable seed kits from Presidential inputs schemes in March this year before selling the inputs for personal gains.

The abused inputs were allegedly stolen from Mushumbi Pools Depot in Mbire, Mashonaland Central Province, and were to be donated to farmers.

Widdorn Chiodza was the first to testify against the suspects.

He told court that he indeed bought fertiliser worth over US$10,000 from the accused but was later told to bring all the bags after the matter was investigated.

“They called and advised me that Honourable Karoro was demanding back the fertiliser. I refused and Dzimunya asked for the documents that were written by the manager and I gave him.

“They spent the whole day making threats, saying Karoro was involved,” he said.

Chiodza said he was told to bring back the fertiliser or risk losing both his money and the fertiliser.

George Manokore is prosecuting.

Trial continues Tuesday.

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