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Top Byo lawyer in trouble: In court over fraudulent stands deals

By Cynthia Dube

A top Bulawayo lawyer and suspected serial fraudster, Russel Dzete and four cohorts spent a night in prison for allegedly defrauding three people of $38 600 and R60 000.

Russel Dzete (right) shy away from camera and his accomplice being led to Magistrate’s court holding cell

Dzete who was employed at Marondedze, Mukuku and partners legal practitioners and his partners Binary Mkandla (46), Edmund Makonese (53), Simangaliso Muringi (49) and Austin Moyo (60) of Cowdray Park allegedly deceived three people through selling them non-existent stands.

A court heard that Dzete, Muringi, Makonese and their co-accused Qhawe Ndlovu who is still at large duped Ms Pamela Ngwenya of Pumula North suburb of $24 100.

Dzete, Moyo and Mkandla also allegedly conned a teacher Ms Sithokozile Gumbo of $5 000 and R60 000 through selling her a stand which did not belong to them.

Mr Obias Bidi of Burnside suburb allegedly suffered a prejudice of $9 500 after Dzete allegedly sold him a stand which did not belong to him in Emganwini suburb.

Mr Bidi constructed a house up to roof level before he discovered that he had been deceived.

Dzete, Muringi, Makonese, Mkandla and Moyo appeared before Bulawayo Magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya.

Dzete pleaded not guilty to three counts of fraud and his co-accused who were each facing one count, also pleaded not guilty.

Mr Tashaya granted them $300 bail each.

“Accused persons should continue residing at their known places of residence.

“You are ordered to hand over your travelling documents to the clerk of courts and you are also to report twice per week at your nearest police station,” he said.

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Mr Tashaya remanded them out of custody to April 10. Prosecuting Mr Nkathazo Dlodlo said the five duped three people of $38 600 and R60 000 between September 2015 and May 2016.

In September 2015, Makonese acted as an estate agent and misinformed Ms Ngwenya that they were selling a stand in Matsheumhlophe suburb.

Mr Dlodlo said Makonese, Dzete and Muringi ordered Ms Ngwenya to deposit the money into the law firm trust account.

“On September 22, the complainant deposited $23 000 into Marondedze and Partners Trust account. On the following day he paid $800 to Dzete as commission and a further $300 was paid towards drafting the power of attorney,” he said.

The court heard that the accused person withdrew the money and converted it to their personal use.

“Dzete further tried to use his office to fraudulently change ownership of the property using forged documents by obtaining a High Court order compelling the charge of ownership in favour of the complainant.

“The offence came to light when the High Court discovered that the particulars of the owner of the residential stand were forged.”

In December 2015, Dzete, Mkandla and Moyo claimed to be the owners of Mr Felix Moyo’s stand which is in Selbourne Park and advertised it in a local newspaper purporting it was for sale.

Mr Dlodlo said the stand was initially $15 000 but Ms Gumbo negotiated with the trio until they reduced the price to $13 000.

“On December 23, 2015, the complainant proceeded to Dzete`s office and met the trio and an agreement of sale was drafted after the complainant deposited $4 000 into Marondedze Mukuku and Partners” CBZ trust account.

“On the following day, Dzete ordered the law firm clerk to withdraw the money that was deposited by the complainant,” said Mr Dlodlo.

“On December 31, 2015 the complainant proceeded with R60 000 to Dzete’s office. Dzete took the money and gave the complainant a receipt as proof of payment.”

On June 1, 2016, Dzete met Ms Gumbo in the city centre and encouraged her to make an effort and finish paying for her stand.

The prosecutor said Ms Gumbo paid $1 000 and the trio converted the money to their personal use.

Mr Dlodlo said the matter came to light in December 2016, when Ms Gumbo got suspicious after reading in a local newspaper that the trio had duped other people by selling them the stand which did not belong to them.

The court heard that investigations were carried out and the complainant suffered a prejudice of $5 000 and R60 000. Nothing was recovered. The Chronicle