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Deputy PG implicated in gold mine scandal

by Staff reporter
09 Feb 2024 at 10:01hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S acting deputy prosecutor-general, Michael Reza, is facing allegations of "conspiracy" and "sabotage" in connection with disputed gold claims in Bindura, documents obtained by Truth Diggers show.

Truth Diggers is Alpha Media Holdings' investigative unit.

Blackgate Investments, a company embroiled in a 15-year battle to regain gold claims, has accused Reza of colluding with a rival company, Ran Mine and G&P Industries, to undermine their efforts.

Reza, the firm alleged in papers filed with the police last month, worked with Ran Mine and G&P Industries to ‘prejudice' it of the claims, known as Kimberly 18, 19, 20 and 21, situated at Ran Mine in Bindura.

Two of the claims were awarded to Ran Mine and G&P Industries in 2021.

Reza's alleged involvement in the dispute escalated when he allegedly dropped criminal charges reported over a year by Blackgate against Jack Murehwa, a director at Ran Mine.

Blackgate director Angeline Munyeza claimed that Reza's decision was allegedly based on a ‘fake' letter from the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines, Professor Francis Gudyanga, which granted authority to Ran Mine.

However, during a dispute resolution committee meeting in February 2020, the same letter was disowned by Gudyanga.

"Mr Reza in his letter states that the former permanent secretary (in the Ministry of Mines) Prof F. P. Gudyanga unequivocally grants Ran Mines authority to proceed and work on the disputed claims and yet during the dispute committee meeting held on the 6th of February 2020, the same letter was disowned by the dispute committee," Munyeza said in a letter, which forms part of the police dockets.

"The dispute between Blackgate and Ran Mines and G&P Industries is awaiting judgment in the High Court (HC 6425/21), therefore, meaning the case hasn't been resolved yet."

The letter was also copied to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), where Reza is a senior official.

The allegations against Reza are contained in several documents filed by Blackgate to the police against individuals, including former mines minister Winston Chitando.

Chitando last week refused to comment, saying the matter was still before the courts.

Blackgate's director alleged that: "It is through our own private investigations that we have unearthed this glaring evidence and established that there are certain individuals within the police force that are working in unison with Mr Winston Chitando, Mr Jackson Peterson Murehwa, and Mr Michael Reza to sabotage our case".

She said during a meeting convened by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in 2020 to resolve the dispute, Murehwa produced a letter that was allegedly written by Gudyanga, which stated that the gold claims belonged to Ran Mines.

However, Gudyanga, in a sworn affidavit, denied writing the letter, pointing out inconsistencies in the signatures and asserting that the letter did not originate from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

"The undersigned do hereby take an oath and state as follows; I was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development from September 2013 to May 2017," Gudyanga said.

"There was a letter, which was purported to have been written/generated by me dated November 2013 (the date is not clear on the letter), directed to Messrs Atherstone and Cook in the matter between Blackgate Investments (Private) Limited vs. Mines (Private) Limited, G&P Industries (Private) Limited. I wish to state that I am neither the author nor generator of the letter dated November 2013 directed to Messrs Atherstone and Cook and my reasons are as follows; the signature on the letter is not mine. although it looks like mine, l did not sign that letter, the letter does not bear both my initials as I am addressed as Prof f.P Gudyanga," he said in his affidavit.

In a docket filed under case number (Cr 1158/10/23), Blackgate re-opened its criminal case against Murehwa and other ran Mine directors.

"The evidence from (a government official), who stated that F.P. Gudyanga is the one, who authored the document and appended his signature, is blatantly misleading to the courts as this evidence was used by the head of prosecution Mr Michael reza to decline prosecution on Jackson Murehwa Cr822/01/22 and this resulted in prejudice to our mining rights. Therefore, the accused acted unlawfully," the affidavit reads.

Last week the NPA, and ran Mine and G&P Industries' legal counsel said they could not comment on the matter, saying it was subjudice.

"We cannot comment on an issue that is being investigated. We do not have the docket or full information about allegations and the extent of them," Angeline Munyeriwa, spokesperson at the NPA, said, when asked about the case and allegations against Reza.

"So, until the docket is presented to the NPA and citing the involvement of PG (prosecutor general), we cannot comment until it is submitted to us."

However, investigations show that the NPA received the dockets on January 24.

Chris Mhike, the legal counsel for ran Mine and G&P Industries directors, also said last week: "as you are fully aware, commenting on cases that are subjudice is improper and unethical. accordingly we are unable to render any factual or legal remarks on the matter at this stage."

The Zimbabwe republic Police confirmed receiving the complaints but stated that they were still under review.

In a letter addressed to the ZrP, Pfungwa Kunaka, the current Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, said the letter, which was purportedly signed by Gudyanga, "does not appear to have come from the ministry".

"This office acknowledges that the letter said to have been produced by Jackson Murehwa from our Ministry and signed on the 25th of November 2013 by the then permanent secretary professor f.P. Gudyanga does not appear to have originated from this Ministry.

"The Ministry did not have the letter in its file. beyond that, records do not show that any specific use of the letter was applied to resolving the dispute referenced above," said Kunaka.

His letter is part of documents submitted to the police.

Source - the independent