Police in high-speed chase with ‘land baron’

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LAW enforcement agents were last Sunday involved in a high-speed chase drama with a Mutare man, Binali Yard, whom they wanted to arrest in connection with the parcelling out of residential stands on land that was set aside for educational institutions in Gimboki section of Dangamvura.

This emerged during the bail hearing of Yard (48), Trust Mutima (39), Webster Mudzimwa (39), Tawanda Ndawe (42) and Brian Marange (59) before Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe, on Wednesday.

The five’s arrest drew a large crowd at the Mutare Magistrates Criminal Court, and police in anti-riot gear had to be deployed to stop scores of residents who wanted to follow the court proceedings from entering the premises.

Yard, Mutima, Mudzimwa, Ndawe and Marange were not asked to plead when they appeared before Mr Mahwe, who initially remanded them in custody to yesterday (Thursday), before rolling over the matter to today for his bail ruling.

They allegedly contravened Section 24 (1) as read with Section 24 (4) of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 19:12 (Unlawful carrying out development without permission) or alternatively criminal trespass as defined in Section 132 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.

The five were represented by Mr Chris Ndlovu of Gonese and Ndlovu Legal Practitioners, while Mrs Tadiwanashe Muuya represented the State.

The complainant in the matter is Mutare City Council represented by its principal security officer, Mr Tricos Zezai.

The court heard that Mutare City Council is the custodian of the land in question and has a laid down general procedure of allocating both residential and commercial stands to beneficiaries which entails that one makes an application to the housing director or town clerk before being considered for allocation.

In its bank, Mutare City Council has among others stand number 13754 measuring 7 492 hectares, stand number 16698, measuring 561 hectares and stand number 16699, measuring 7, 65ha which is yet to be serviced for allocation to people.

Mrs Muuya said: “Sometime in September 2023, the accused while acting in concert, identified vacant council land on different dates, and using their influential positions in the society and in violation of Section 24 (1) as read with Section 14 (4) of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 19:12 pegged and parcelled out the said land to desperate home seekers in Mutare for the purposes of development of a residential area.

“The matter came to light after Mutare City Council toured the area and realised that some of the vacant land earmarked for primary and secondary schools had been pegged and allocated to individuals by the accused persons and made a report to the police,” said Mrs Muuya.

On December 10, a team of detectives from Criminal Investigations Department’s Police Anti-Corruption Unit and CID Homicide in Harare proceeded to Mutare to investigate the matter leading to the arrest of Yard, Mutima, Mudzimwa, Ndawe and Marange.

Mrs Muuya opposed bail, arguing that after the matter was reported to the police, and word reached the accused persons that law enforcement agents were after them, police were involved in a high-speed chase with Yard in Mutare.

It is alleged that Yard managed to escape, only to be arrested on Monday after being cornered at Herbert Chitepo Barracks in Chikanga.

The court also heard that if granted bail, the accused persons are likely to interfere with witnesses, especially Yard as he is known to other witnesses whom he threatened with unspecified action if they reported the matter to the police.

“The accused persons are likely to commit other offences as they were once warned by their senior party officials to stop the parcelling out of land in Gimboki and defied the order, hence they might continue committing similar offences using the same modus operandi,” said Mrs Muuya.

To buttress her arguments, Mrs Muuya called in the investigation officer, Detective Assistant Inspector John Mvundura from the Police Anti-Corruption Unit to take the witness stand and testify.

“After the matter was reported to the police, word reached the accused persons that police were looking for them. The police intercepted Yard’s car and were involved in a high-speed chase with him and he managed to escape. Accused One (Yard) was cornered the following day on December 11 after several attempts to arrest him were unsuccessful, hence if the accused persons are granted bail, they are likely to abscond,” said Detective Assistant Inspector Mvundura.

In his bail submissions, Mr Ndlovu said it was a Constitutional right for any accused person to be granted bail pending trial.

He said his clients were ideal candidates for bail as they never resisted attempts to bring them to book.

“My clients are ideal candidates for bail as they are not facing any serious offence. There is no reason for them to abscond because in the event of a conviction, the charge they are facing attracts a fine or six months imprisonment.

“Allocating stands is not developing them as stated in the charge they are facing. As for allegations that Yard was involved in a high-speed chase, there is no evidence to that effect. There were no traffic violation charges that were levelled against him for that alleged offence,” said Mr Ndlovu.

Source: Business Weekly