Top cop pleads ‘not guilty’ as graft trial gets underway

Erasmus Makodza

HARARE – Matabeleland North’s top police officer went on trial on Monday accused of irregularly granting his girlfriend use of a police farm.

Commissioner Erasmus Makodza pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal abuse of office when his trial got underway before Harare magistrate Noel Mupeiwa.

Makodza said while he had a child born two years prior with Mawonei Chapfudza, they were not in a relationship when she secured the deal.

Defence lawyer Tinashe Makanza said: “Accused did not chair the committee which decides on applications for public private partnerships with the Zimbabwe Republic Police in relation to police farms. His subordinate Assistant Commissioner Moyo (now late) chaired the committee. In the ordinary course and scope of doing business, the accused would not have been the one who would have chaired that committee.

“The accused did not sign any document binding the ZRP with Chapfudza nor did he act on behalf of his principal to create legal relations with her. Accused was a non-participant in the whole process. In any event, he had no personal interest in the transaction.

“He was not in a relationship with Chapfudza, he simply had a child by her two years prior to the alleged offence. Out of caution and in order to avoid a situation where he could be said to have abused his office by entertaining Chapfudza’s application, he therefore recused himself.”

Makodza was taken into custody for allegedly allowing his girlfriend to run private businesses on a police farm since 2019 without paying a cent into police coffers.

He is out on US$10,000 bail.

Makodza was detained by officers from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and charged with criminal abuse of office.

Prosecutors say he committed the crime while commanding Mashonaland East province in 2019 when – purporting to represent the ZRP – he signed a deal with Chapfudza, whom he projected as a private investor and authorised her to run projects at Lendy Farm in Marondera.

Chapfudza used the police farm for her personal businesses without remitting anything in terms of that agreement.

The trial continues on Tuesday. – ZimLive