By Andile Tshuma
Former Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Gift Banda has been arrested for alleged corruption involving a US$60 000 land sale deal.
Banda (50) who is also Njube-Lobengula constituency MP is accused of conniving with a local real estate company to forge signatures to sell a residential stand in Selbourne Brooke in Bulawayo.
The former deputy mayor, Bard Real Estate represented by Mbonisi David Nyaguze (33) appeared before Western Commonage magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya and pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud.
Mr Tashaya remanded him out of custody to February 20 for commencement of trial.
The magistrate ordered that a forensic investigation be conducted to ascertain the authenticity of the signatures.
He also said an independent signature specialist should be consulted before Banda’s next court appearance.
For the State, Mr George Rufumoyo said Banda connived with Bard Real Estate and forged a signature of one Mr Nkululeko Ndlovu to sell his residential stand without his consent.
“On February 2, 2015, the complainant (Ndlovu) bought a residential stand in Selbourne Brooke Bulawayo. He then signed a memorandum of agreement sale with Bulawayo Gloss and Allied products.
“Sometime in 2017, on a date unknown to the prosecutor, Gift Banda approached the complainant and offered to buy the stand and the agreement was that Banda would pay for a bigger stand on behalf of the complainant in Paddonhurst suburb,” said the prosecutor.
Banda allegedly failed to abide by the terms of the agreement and subsequently offered to buy the residential stand in question in cash. He again allegedly failed to honour the promise.
“On July 21, 2017, the complainant sent a message to Banda advising him of his intention to cancel the agreement. After the cancellation had been communicated, Banda went on to transfer US$2 000 into the complainant’s Steward Bank account and started doing some construction work on the stand.
“On realising that Banda was defiant, the complainant through his lawyer wrote Banda a letter instructing him to cease the construction but he defied.
“The complainant through his lawyers made an application to the High Court declaring the sale null and void since it was against City of Bulawayo regulations which barred sale of an undeveloped stand by an individual,” said the prosecutor.
Mr Rufumoyo said Banda tendered a Cessation Agreement which he drafted in his personal capacity as a sales agent for Bard Real Estate.
The said Cessation Agreement purported that the complainant had ceded all interest and rights of the stand.
“The document had the complainant’s forged signatures. Also tendered at the High Court was an acknowledgement of payment which was also drafted by accused three in his official capacity as an employee of accused two also bearing complainant’s forged signature.
An agreement of sale between Banda and Bulawayo Glass and Allied dated September 20, 2015, which was drafted by accused three on Bard Real Estate’s logo was also tendered by Banda in his defence.
The complainant suffered actual prejudice of US$60 000 which is the value of the stand as a result of accused person’s actions,” said the prosecutor. The Chronicle