The High Court has ordered a couple who work as vehicle inspectors to explain how they amassed nearly $2 million worth of properties and cars, in a case that has sparked public outrage over corruption and inequality.
The High Court of Zimbabwe issued an Unexplained Wealth Order against Ozipatele Mtatabikwa and his wife, Maonei Memory Mtatabikwa, on Tuesday, following an application by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on behalf of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
The order requires the couple to disclose to ZACC the source of funds used to acquire five vehicles and eight properties in the medium and low-density areas of Beitbridge and Norton.
The assets have an estimated value of over $1.9 million, according to the court documents.
The court also barred the couple or their agents from disposing of the properties until investigations have been completed.
The couple are civil servants employed by the Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
The NPA argued that the couple’s income was not commensurate with their wealth and that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the assets were the proceeds of crime.
The case has drawn attention to the issue of illicit enrichment by public officials in Zimbabwe, where the majority of the population lives in poverty and faces economic hardships.
According to the World Bank, the poverty rate in Zimbabwe was 38.3% in 2019, while the unemployment rate was 11.3% in 2020.
ZACC, which was established in 2015, has been mandated to combat corruption and promote good governance in the country.
The commission has the power to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption, as well as to recover assets obtained through unlawful means.