BUSINESSMAN Temba Mliswa, arrested three times in just over a week, is in even deeper trouble.
The controversial former Zanu PF official faces over 70 charges, mostly related to his alleged drive against white farmers during the ongoing often-violent land reform programme.
This came as Mliswa’s lawyers wrote to police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri to intervene and charge the Zanu PF member with all charges at once.
Police sources said Mliswa is likely to face 30 more charges. These exclude the 40 cases that the police told Harare magistrate Don Ndirowei on Wednesday that they intend to bring to court.
Police sources told the Zimbabwe Independent last night that Mliswa could end up answering 78 cases in all, ranging from extortion, assault and fraud — some of the cases dating back eight years.
“The cases arise from his activities in Mashonaland West, Harare and Manicaland and involve activities on farms,” said a police source who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the press. “All the cases we are talking about were reported to the police who did not take action because they were afraid of his political connections.”
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that Mliswa, described by a detective in court this week as “untouchable”, would face additional charges.
“He is facing many more charges. More complainants are coming forward, but I don’t have the exact figures right now,” said Bvudzijena.
Asked why the police had taken so long to arrest Mliswa, Bvudzijena said: “There is no reason for us to ask the complainants why they are only coming forward now. But once a crime has been committed, it is up to us to investigate.”
Mliswa was arrested yesterday at Harare Remand Prison, barely two hours after he was granted bail by Ndirowei on fraud charges involving 3 000 head of cattle and farm equipment allegedly defrauded from Graham George Davis van Rensburg, who lost his farm in Kwekwe to the land reform programme in 2004.
Mliswa is a former Zanu PF lands secretary in Mashonaland West.
He was whisked away in a blue Toyota Corrolla by three officers from the criminal investigation department.
Mliswa’s relatives who had brought him fresh clothes watched in shock as he was driven off. Detectives sped off ignoring desperate attempts by Mliswa’s relatives to wave the police car down and ask about the circumstances surrounding the businessman’s latest arrest.
Mliswa was taken to Harare Central Police Station and it was not clear at the time of going to press last night what fresh charges he was facing.
Charles Chinyama, Mliswa’s lawyer, had on Tuesday written to Chihuri asking the police to stop bringing allegations against Mliswa in instalments.
“In the interest of finality to litigation, please can we kindly request through your good offices to have all the outstanding charges brought to finality,” wrote Chinyama.
Mliswa’s nightmare started on June 28 when he was arrested together with Martin Mutasa, the son of Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa, and George Marere for allegedly attempting to take over a Harare vehicle accessories company. The trio spent four days in detention, despite reported attempts by Mutasa and Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone to facilitate their release. Police picked Mliswa up again on Monday, this time on the cattle and farm equipment fraud charges.
Farai Mutsaka/Faith Zaba