A HARARE magistrate, Thursday, acquitted Zanu PF activist and businessman-cum musician, Energy Mutodi of charges of swindling home seekers over $500 000, instead ruling that the matter was civil.
Mutodi’s lawyer Charles Chinyama successfully applied for discharge at the close of the state’s case, arguing that the matter should have been dealt with as a civil case.
“Section 49 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly states that failure to fulfill a contractual obligation cannot lead to detention or imprisonment,” said Chinyama.
“My client should have been given a special notice as the alleged offence was committed before the ushering in of the new constitution.”
Mutodi’s acquittal comes at a time when Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has issued a stark warning to land barons in the capital.
On Tuesday the minister handed over to police a cooperative leader from Caledonia Farm on the eastern fringes of the capital for prosecution on charges of fraud related to state land.
Meanwhile, it was the State’s case that Mutodi enticed over 16,000 civil servants to make monthly contributions for them to obtain houses.
The two later on allegedly swindled the government workers of $588,787 when they failed to fulfil their contractual obligations.
Mutodi was being jointly charged with his firm, National Housing and Development Trust (NHDT) and one of the firm’s trustees Boniface Chikono.
However on Thursday, Harare magistrate, Hosea Mujaya, ruled that Mutodi had no case to answer as the matter “was purely civil”.