Karoro and accomplices granted bail

By Peter Chivhima

THE Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Douglas Karoro, who is facing charges of fraud, appeared in court this Monday and has been granted ZWL50 000 bail.

Charged alongside two other individuals Jeremy Phiri and Dean Zimunya, Deputy Minister Karoro is accused of diverting inputs which were supposed to benefit farmers in Mbire Constituency of Mashonaland Central Province under the Presidential inputs scheme.

This Monday, court proceedings started with the State leading evidence from the Investigation Officer Superintendent Webster Mapepeta who submitted that investigations are still underway, with most of the witnesses yet to be questioned domiciled in Mbire Constituency where Karoro is a Member of Parliament, hence admitting him to bail may jeopardise the investigations.

It is the state’s case that between March and April this year, Karoro allegedly diverted 700 bags of fertiliser and seed maize worth US$18 000 and 5 000 vegetable Combo kits valued at US$73 400.

The court heard that upon feeling the heat in the fertiliser deal, Karoro tried to exonerate himself by returning 501 bags of fake fertiliser which were later recovered from Aspindale and Mushumbi Grain Marketing Board depots.

Turning to Karoro’s co- accused person Jeremy Phiri, the Investigation Officer alleged that Phiri is a violent man after trying to evade arrest, while he was also found in possession of gold and dagga which he failed to produce a permit for by the time of arrest.

In opposing the trio to be admitted to bail, the State alleged that the accused persons have strong case to answer and if admitted to bail chances are high that they may flee to neighbouring countries.

The State also submitted that by virtue of being a Deputy Minister, Karoro still holds powers to the office and is likely to influence state witnesses.

However, through their legal representatives, the accused persons denied any wrong doing, with Karoro saying there are no reasons for him to be a fugitive, leaving his property in Borrowdale and Guruve.