By Jeffrey Muvundusi
Former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko’s Choppies empire is falling apart after his son Siqokoqela, 40, was yesterday dragged to court for defrauding the shop of over $51 000.
This comes after Siqokoqela’s wife Nomagugu, 36 was also dragged to court on almost similar charges by Botswana-based Choppies group chief executive officer Ottapathu Ramachandran.
The court cases come at a time, there has been ownership wrangle between the Mphoko family and the Choppies Botswana headquarters.
The latest development also dismisses the Mphoko family as the owners of the fast growing business empire.
Siqokoqela appeared before magistrate Sithembiso Ncube facing 170 counts of theft and fraud. The accused who is being represented by Mphoko family lawyer Welshman Ncube was remanded to September 14 on $200 bail.
Three complainants on the matter include Nnavac Investiments trading as Zimbabwe Choppies, Choppies Enterprises Limited and Choppies Distribution Centre pvt ltd domiciled in Gaborone Botswana.
The accused is a shareholder and one of the six directors of Nnavac Investments where he is also a non-executive director.
According to the court papers, the day to day management, operation, financing, stocking, supplier issues, banking facilities and guarantees are handled by Ramachandran, senior management that is the Head of Operations report directly to him.
The court documents also show that as an executive director the accused is only entitled to gross salary of $10 000 per month, his children’s full fees and fuel for the company vehicle monthly.
The court heard that on various dates, Siqokoqela without board authority from the complainant or agreement with any of the shareholders or directors and without seeking their consent proceeded to various supermarkets of the complainant where he demanded for and looted cash, goods or services.
This, he did by deceiving the employees into believing that he was at the helm of the company with the authority to demand or collect anything he so wished from the business and that he could collect goods on a credit facility which was itself a misrepresentation, the court heard.
On various occasions, it is alleged Siqokoqela misrepresented to the employees from whom he collected the cash, goods or services that the value therefore was to be deducted from his monthly salary.
At the same time he would instruct the finance department of the company not to deduct any amount from his salary.
The court was further told that there were occasions when he also misrepresented that he intended to replace the amount taken by swiping for the amount at one of the till points when he had no plan to do so.
The accused person had given the impression that he is at the helm of the company to the extent that he does not answer to anyone but himself.
As such all the employees in Zimbabwe were labouring under the misconception that the accused person is the owner of Choppies Zimbabwe.
He even threatened the employees with dismissal and deportation, the court heard.
As a result, the three complainants suffered actual prejudice of a total sum of $51 945. 53 and nothing was recovered. Daily News