Land developer ‘swindles’ Nust workers of $150k

By Mashudu Netsianda

A Bulawayo businessman, through his land developing company, allegedly swindled National University of Science and Technology (Nust) employees of $149 000 in a botched housing scheme.

Tendai Charuka (32), a director of the Zimbabwe Project Housing Trust (ZPHT) and residing at Kensington Flats situated along George Silundika Street and 2nd Avenue, appeared before Bulawayo regional magistrate Mr Crispen Mberewere facing fraud charges.

He was remanded out of custody to January 23 for trial.

Charuka was five years ago engaged by a group of Nust employees under the institution’s housing project who wanted to secure residential stands under the ZPHT housing scheme.

Prosecuting, Mr Simbarashe Manyiwa said sometime in 2011 Nust non-academic staff members teamed up and formed a housing scheme under which each member contributed an initial deposit of $500 towards purchasing the stands.

According to the agreement, each worker was supposed to pay a monthly subscription of $100 per month for 40 months in addition to the initial deposit.

The court heard that in 2013, the complainants approached Charuka who introduced himself as a land developer. Charuka told the Nust employees that he owned 20.9 hectares of land under Lot 14 of Lower Rangemore.

Charuka offered to subdivide the land into 167 stands with each Nust employee benefiting from the scheme. He also promised to service the stands by constructing roads and a sewer system.

According to the agreement, Nust workers were supposed to pay a total of $668 000 at the end of the deal.

On January 30, 2015, a memorandum of understanding was signed between ZPHT and Nust workers’ committee.

Nust workers deposited $149 000 into ZPHT’s bank account as an initial payment for the 167 residential stands.

The court heard that after the money was deposited, Charuka failed to develop the stands or account for the money.

“This prompted the Nust housing project to create a task force to probe the matter. The investigation showed that the land was not registered under Charuka’s name,” said Mr Manyiwa.

It turned out that the land that Charuka purported to own was registered under the estate of the late Zephaniah Maybin Bafanah and Margaret Bafanah.

The matter was reported to the police and investigations further revealed that Charuka had no permit to subdivide the land in terms of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.

The $149 000 was not recovered. Chronicle

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