I sold firewood, veggies to avert students’ strike: Ex-Hartzell head

Shorwi Kawadza

FORMER Hartzell High School head, Shorwi Kawadza, has told the Mutare Magistrate’s Court that he sold firewood, vegetables, peanut butter and tomatoes to the school to stop a learners’ strike.

The former school head who is being represented by Mr Victor Chinzamba of Mugadza, Chinzamba and Partners, is facing charges of corruptly concealing his personal interest in the transaction as defined in Section 173 (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.

Kawadza’s application for discharge at the close of the State case was dismissed by regional magistrate, Mrs Phathekile Msipa, on Tuesday.

Mutare District prosecutor, Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira is leading the State’s case.

When he was being cross-examined by Mr Mutyasira on Tuesday, Kawadza said: “I should make it clear that I only facilitated these transactions because I was averting a possible strike by learners. Our suppliers demanded payment in US dollars, and yet we were not receipting US dollars as a school. I would use my company’s money to source these goods and then get refunds from the school.

“I have seen strikes by learners and they reflect badly on the reputation of the headmaster and this is what I wanted to avoid. I also did not conceal my interests because I verbally told the School Development Committee (SDC) chairperson as well as the station head. The two did not request anything in writing, so I presumed everything was above board.”

Reverends Joseph Chimberengwa and Onsimo Makwasha were station heads at Hartzell High School when Kawadza’s was the headmaster, while Mr Patrick Sagandira and a Mrs Nyakurai were SDC chairpersons respectively.

The court adjourned to October 30 for defence witnesses to testify.

Allegations are that during the period between 2019 and 2022, Mutrue Investments Private Limited Company, in which Kawadza is a co-director together with his wife and son, supplied firewood, tomatoes, peanut butter and vegetables to Hartzell High School while Kawadza was the school’s head.

According to the United Methodist Church Operations Policies and Procedures Manual Section 2.0 Authorities Procedures, all business transactions between Mutrue Investments Private Limited and Hartzell High School were supposed to have been authorised by the church’s Agencies of Annual Conference.

Mr Mutyasira said Kawadza as the head did not declare his personal interest in Mutrue Investments Private Limited to the United Methodist Church Agencies of Annual Conference, hence he had no approval to engage his company to supply anything to Hartzell High School.

The court also heard that Mutrue was never officially selected by the school’s procurement committee to supply the commodities to Hartzell High School.

lt is said Kawadza would just deliver the commodities to the school’s boarding section and call his deputy to approve the purchases in order to receive payment.

At the time when the offence was committed, Kawadza was a signatory for Hartzell High School’s bank account which would pay his company for the supplied goods.

Kawadza was also the signatory for Mutrue Investments Private Limited.

The school’s bank statement shows that payments were made to Mutrue Investments Private Limited’s account as well as to Kawadza’s personal bank account for the goods supplied to Hartzell High School. – Manica Post

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