Energy Mutodi — accused of swindling home-seekers of over $500 000 — has a case to answer and should be put to his defence, a prosecutor said yesterday.
Prosecutor Michael Reza quashed Mutodi’s attempt to seek discharge on the grounds that allegations being levelled against him were civil in nature and should never have been brought before a criminal court.
Mutodi is jointly charged with his company National Housing and Development Trust (NHDT) and one of the firm’s trustees, Boniface Chikono.
“The accused cannot be heard to say the case is civil because it is not, it would have qualified to be civil if they owned the land that they purported to allocate,” Reza argued.
“The honourable court is persuaded not to believe the accused persons’ defence that this was a business arrangement gone sour.
“If it had happened in only one area, then maybe the civil tag would stick but this was 10 areas and all complainants suffered the same fate.”
Reza said one can discern a pattern in the way that Mutodi operated.
“They would mislead land owners that they are genuine land developers and gained their trust by making the initial deposit,” Reza said.
“They would then invite members already contributing or lure new ones, that is fraud.”
Mutodi’s lawyer Charles Chinyama argued that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused persons.
He said Reza had failed to prove the essential elements of fraud and consequently, the accused were entitled to their discharge at the close of the State’s case.
The flamboyant musician-cum-politician is alleged to have lured over 16 000 civil servants to join and contribute to his housing trust.
Deduction orders were given to the Salary Services Bureau to debit certain amounts of money on a monthly basis from salaries of civil servants who had joined the trust.
It is alleged that in 2007, Mutodi allegedly changed the account signing arrangement, and made himself the sole signatory.
He allegedly signed for all the transactions.
At least $588 787 was paid in by the complainants, but according to State papers, Mutodi failed to account for the cash.