Jane Mutasa arrested over Telecel scam
By Daniel Nemukuyu
Businesswoman and Telecel Zimbabwe board member Jane Mutasa has been arrested on allegations of defrauding the mobile phone service provider of US$750 000 in an airtime scam involving several company employees.
Mutasa, who is also a shareholder with the same company, was arrested on Friday together with Telecel regional sales manager Charles Mapurisa.
Mutasa’s personal assistant at her own firm, Oxygon Investments, Caroline Gwinyai, was also arrested.
The trio appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Don Ndirowei, who remanded them in custody to March 19. The State opposed bail, saying the three were likely to abscond if they were released.
Harare lawyer Mr Charles Chinyama represented Mutasa and Gwinyai while Mr Ziwai Kamusasa appeared for Mapurisa. A bid by Mr Chinyama to challenge Gwinyai’s placement on remand failed when the court threw out her application for refusal of remand.
Some Telecel employees alleged to be part of the scam have since been turned into State witnesses and are currently assisting police with investigations.
Police are still looking for Telecel’s commercial director, Naquib Omar, who is believed to have played a major role in the commission of the offence.
Appearing for the State, chief law officer Mr Tawanda Zvekare from the Attorney-General’s Office alleged that on July 15 last year the then Telecel managing director, Mr Rex Chibesa, ordered all workers to stop selling lines and airtime using manual invoices.
Despite the memorandum from the managing director, it is the State’s case that Omar and the three suspects connived to swindle the firm by continuing to request stock from Telecel using manual invoices that were not being captured in the company’s data system.
On an unknown date last year, Mapurisa requested a manual invoice book from the stores section through Muchineripi Nzuwa, an order-processing clerk. The book was taken to Mapurisa who allegedly kept it.
Between August 26 and October 21 2009, Mutasa is alleged to have instructed Omar to request stock from Telecel stores on behalf of her personal firm Oxygon Investments.
It is the State’s case that Omar then instructed his junior, Mapu-risa, to write the manual invoice for 30 000 seed packs (lines) valued at US$300 000 and airtime cards worth US$450 000.
Omar allegedly authorised the invoices before they were presented to Telecel stores office for collection. A Telecel driver later delivered the goods to Oxygon Investments where Mutasa’s personal assistant, Gwinyai, allegedly received them.
Gwinyai allegedly kept the goods in Mutasa’s office. The matter came to light when Telecel’s finance manager was preparing end-of-month financial statements in September 2009.
Telecel engaged auditors who managed to quantify the variance to US$1,7 million of which US$750 000 was traced to seed packs and airtime recharge cards purportedly sold to Oxygon Investments.
Mr Zvekare told the court that the manual invoice book that was used in the scam went missing, adding that police were still hunting for Omar. Omar is suspected to be hiding in Botswana. Mr Chinyama told the court that Gwinyai was “a mere personal assistant” and that she was never linked to the offence in any way.
He said the papers before the court showed that Omar was the one who committed the offence. The Herald