HARARE – City of Harare bosses and Pokugara Properties representatives have been acquitted by a Harare regional court following trial for ordering the demolition of a city home they claimed was constructed using a fraudulent plan.
Zvenyika Chawatama, Samuel Nyabeze, Lasten Taonezvi and Pokugara Properties representative Marlone Ndebele and former Pokugara general manager Michael Van Blerk were jointly charged for malicious damage to property.
They were accused of ordering the destruction of a house in Borrowdale that was built with a fraudulent building plan by George Katsimberis.
They were cleared of wrongdoing at the close of state’s case after Harare magistrate Florence Chakanyuka ruled prosecutors had failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
Pokugara is owned by top businessman Ken Sharpe.
The controversial house was built by Katsimberis who was the complainant in the matter following a joint venture agreement with Pokugara Properties to build cluster houses in Borrowdale.
The magistrate said the state, represented by Zivanai Macharga failed to prove the demolition was malicious.
She said the state failed to prove that the demolition order issued by the city council authorities was invalid and no evidence led to challenge the order.
“There is no evidence led in court on who approved the plan. There is no evidence to show the plan went through all departments,” Chakanyuka said in her ruling.
The magistrate also said the joint venture was invalidated by the High Court, leaving Katsimberis with no powers to challenge the building.
She said this was because the City Council did not know Katsimberis but Pokugara Properties which had the land.
Chakanyuka also ruled that the witness Roy Nyabvure could not be trusted.
According to the ruling, his testimony was marred by bitterness and not facts.
She said it was clear that protocols were not complied with before building took place.
“The exhibits in this case showed that the accused persons and the complainant had been on each other’s throat for a very long time and this has a bearing on this case’s determination,” said Chakanyuka.
Chakanyuka also acquitted the city bosses of an alternative charge of criminal abuse of office allegations saying no evidence led to prove the letter written by the council was irregular.
Katsimberis had built the showroom in a joint venture agreement with Pokugara properties but the building was condemned after it was discovered that the plan was fraudulent and the material used were not correct.
In turn of events, the building was condemned after it was discovered that the plan was fraudulent and the materials used were not recommended.
This resulted in a fallout between Katsimberis and his former business partner and owner of Pokugara, Ken Sharpe and subsequent legal battle.