BULAWAYO – The central figure in a fraud case involving more than US$20 million allegedly siphoned from Zimbabwe’s ministry of defence died a day before he was due in court.

Peter Muchakazi, 56, an army procurement officer, according to sources, died just a few hours after complaining of chest pains on Sunday night.

Mark Grey Marongwe, the ministry of defence’s secretary confirmed Muchakazi’s death.

“The family of the deceased will be in a better position to comment about how he died,” he said.

Muchakazi was suspected to be the ringleader of a well-orchestrated con in which fake invoices were raised for services allegedly rendered to the ministry. The fraud rap faced by Muchakazi, his co-accused Jonathan Tandangu, Dhuvai Muzenda and Maria Fungisai Chiurira in December last year drew the attention of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) as some army commanders were also investigated for being part of the scam.

South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, on January 12 this year, reported that the matter involving Muchakazi was the reason behind Danison Muvandi, the director of finance and human resources, fleeing the country. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Allegations of corruption at the ministry of defence investigated by ZACC implicate army officers and civilian employees.

In December, army chief-of-staff quartermaster Maj-Gen Hlanganani Dube — one of the ZDF’s top five commanders — was implicated in the theft of 30 tonnes of beef from a recruitment training depot in Matabeleland South.

Dube’s driver was arrested by counterintelligence operatives and pointed the finger at his boss, who was put on forced leave pending completion of an investigation.

The commander of One Commando regiment in Harare, Lt-Col Enock Chivhima, was arrested last May and charged with stealing beef rations meant for his troops.

He and eight other soldiers were also arrested on suspicion of stealing donations for victims of Cyclone Idai.

The looting at the ministry was unearthed at a time when soldiers in the barracks had to do with only one meal a day. – TimesLive


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