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Minister Shiri’s imposter in court for swindling farmers

By Tendai Rupapa

An unrepentant ex-convict who allegedly registered cellphone lines in the name of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri and used them to swindle unsuspecting farmers of over $10 000 through dubious land schemes, has appeared in court.

Perrance Shiri being sworn in as the new minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement
Perrance Shiri being sworn in as the new minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement

Blessing Vava (32) appeared before magistrate Mrs Rumbidzai Mugwagwa who remanded him in custody to today for bail ruling.

Vava also registered more lines in the names of Mary Shiri and Brigadier Brighton Manyika.

He would call the farmers using the fraudulently registered lines advising them that they had qualified for land distribution before ordering them to send money for processing the offer letters through EcoCash.

The complainants would fall for the trap because the EcoCash confirmation would indicate that the recipient of the cash was Minister Shiri.

Vava was once jailed for similar offences in 2014 and by then he was using the name Blessing Mazarura.
Facts of the charges which Vava was convicted of are that he registered cellphone lines in the names of prominent Zanu-PF politicians, which he used to swindle unsuspecting farmers of thousands of dollars through dubious farming input schemes.

He would call the farmers using the fraudulently registered lines advising them that they had qualified for agricultural inputs and implements before ordering them to send money for transport through EcoCash.

The politicians whose names were used are Cde Didymus Mutasa, Cde Tendai Savanhu, Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, Cde Basil Nyabadza and Mr Munacho Mutezo.

MDC-T legislator Mr Innocent Gonese’s name was also used.

Mazarura, through his lawyer Mr John Ndomene of Ndomene and Maposa legal practitioners, told the court that he recently changed his surname from Mazarura to Vava.

According to the State, the offences were committed from May 10 to September 28 this year.

Vava allegedly defrauded 18 complainants.

Prosecuting, Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that on May 10, Vava contacted Mr Cullen Richards who had a pending appeal at the ministry over a farm in Beatrice.

As such, Vava instructed Richards to pay $1 767 into Ecocash registered in the name of Mary Shiri towards speeding up finalisation of the appeal.

On May 17, Vava contacted another complainant Mr Willard Mutazu who had applied for a farm in Bindura and misrepresented that his application was successful.

Richards was instructed to transfer $135 into Ecocash registered in the name of Mary Shiri.

The following day, Vava misrepresented to John Chin’onzo who had applied for land that his application was successful and was also instructed to pay a processing fee of $195 via Ecocash.

On the same day, Vava called Craig John William purporting to be Minister Shiri and lied that he could facilitate the issuance of a 99-year lease.

William was ordered to pay a processing fee of $650.

On May 22, Vava, the Court heard, got in touch with Tapiwanashe Gandiya and misrepresented to him that his application for land in Marondera had been approved, hence a processing fee of $420 was required.

It is the State’s case that two days later, Moses Tendai Chingwena was ordered to pay $1 000 by Vava after he was told that his appeal on the acquisition of a farm in Masvingo had been successful.

Chingwena was told the money was meant for allowances of officials from the ministry who were supposed to travel to Masvingo to officiate at the farm handover and demarcation of boundaries.

Using the same modus operandi, Vava duped several other farmers.

Some of the complainants fell for the trap and deposited the money, while others refused after they became suspicious. The Chronicle