By Harmony Agere
Two men from Bulawayo have been arrested for allegedly using Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s name to swindle a Chinese mining firm of more than US$110 000.
The duo, Mthunzi Mabhena (36) and Blessed Mushando (28), who are both unemployed, have since appeared in court charged with fraud as defined in Section 136 of the Criminal law, Codification and Reform Act.
According to the charge sheet, Mabhena and Mushando, posing as VP Mohadi’s son and secretary respectively collected various amounts of money from the complainant, Cheng Minghua, between October 2018 and March 2019 after promising to arrange mining deals for him.
It is the State’s case that sometime in October 2018, Cheng was introduced by his friend Ming Kutsoko and former business partner to the accused.
After the meeting, Mabhena and Mushando allegedly hatched a plan to defraud Cheng and arranged for a business meeting with him at Holiday Inn in Harare.
“During the meeting and pursuant to their plan, the accused misrepresented to the complainant that all rivers in Zimbabwe are administered and managed in the office of VP Mohadi adding that the same office was responsible for approvals of foreign investors to mine alluvial gold,” reads the charge sheet.
“In April 2019 Mushando falsely indicated to Cheng that VP Mohadi had a problem with his cattle at his farm and needed US$8 000.”
Pursuant to their plan, Mabhena then contacted Cheng indicating that he is VP Mohadi’s son and further reiterated on the aforementioned problem that indeed the VP had encountered a problem with his cattle at the farm which required US$8000.
“Cheng asserted that Mabhena should come to collect the said amount since he no longer trusted Mushando,” reads the charge sheet.
“However, Mabhena indicated that he was at the Harare International Airport on his way to South Africa and insisted that the complainant should give the money to Mushando.”
The complainant then handed over the US$8 000 to Mushando.
On a separate occasion, Mabhena and Mushando deceived Cheng that he should meet VP Mohadi for him to be granted mining certificates for most of the rivers nationwide. The duo demanded a total of US$20 000 solely meant for the VP as engagement and facilitation fee.
Cheng, acting upon such a misrepresentation, paid cash totalling US$20 000 to the accused persons.
During the same period, the complainant paid a courtesy visit to the Vice President’s office and in the meeting, VP Mohadi indicated that he was happy that they intended to invest in Zimbabwe.
The accused then took advantage of the meeting and waited for the complainant outside the VP’s office where they falsely advised him that they had been sent by the VP to collect another US$5 000.
Sometime in December 2019, the accused persons brought to Cheng a fake letter purportedly authored by VP Mohadi instructing Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando to assist the complainant in their mining endeavours in Nyamukwarara and Pote rivers in Mutare.
“The accused then indicated that a total of US$30 000 and US$17 000 is needed by the ministry and officials at Matabeleland South Provincial Offices to facilitate the processing of mining licences,” reads the charge sheet.
“Acting on such misrepresentation Cheng met accused persons at Holiday Inn Harare and handed over a total of US$47 000 to the two accused.”
During a period extending from January 2019 to March 2019, the accused concocted different invoices purportedly originated from Umguza Rural District Council, ZINWA and EMA with totals amounting to US$5 000, US$20 000, and US$10 900 respectively as mining levies.
“Sometime in March 2019 the accused demanded another $100 000 meant for mining levies in which complainant transferred the said money into accused’s bank account.
“The accused also brought a quotation totalling US$5 000 for the printing of a mining special grant licence copy in the name of Umzingwane River.”
The accused defrauded the complainant of a total of US$113 000 and $100 000 and nothing was recovered.
The duo is currently out on $10 000 bail and set to return to court on October 26. The Sunday Mail