FORMER Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) finance director, Simon Taranhike was on Wednesday acquitted by the High Court after facing criminal abuse of office charges, Zim Morning Post can report.
Taranhike was on bail pending appeal on his conviction and sentence after being jailed for an effective 15 months for criminal abuse of office charges.
High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta sitting with Justice Pisirayi Kwenda set aside Taranhike’s conviction and sentence passed by Harare magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
Mujaya had found Taranhike guilty of abusing the Zinara fuel facility and authorising the issuance of 1 800 litres of petrol coupons without following due procedures.
Mujaya initially sentenced him to 30 months in prison before suspending six months on condition of good behaviour.
Another nine months were suspended on condition that Taranhike pays back the 1 800 litres of fuel to Zinara before December 31 last year.
His actions are said to have prejudiced his employer of fuel then worth $6 354.
Taranhike through his lawyer Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, who was acting on Mrs Rekai Maphosa’s instructions, had appealed against conviction and sentence arguing that he was improperly convicted.
In the appeal Taranhike argued that the State had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt as required by the law.
He said the essential elements of criminal abuse of duty were not satisfied by the State.
The High Court accepted that the instructions to issue the fuel coupons had been given by the board chairman, Engineer Michael Madanha.
Madanha has publicly castigated Taranhike amid murmurs that he wanted his ouster for political reasons.
Justices Chatukuta and Kwenda agreed that the board chairman Madanha had instigated the corruption and Taranhike could not at the same time impute criminal motive and conduct.
The High Court also noted that Taranhike had simply communicated the instructions from the board chairman to a clerk in the transport department resulting in the issuance of the fuel coupons.
Allegations were that Taranhike allegedly pressured Zinara’s transport clerk Dennis Jaricha to procedurally release the fuel coupons, ignoring protocol.
Taranhike, a chartered accountant by profession denied all the allegations and was subsequently found innocent.