By Joseph Madyembwa | Nehanda Courts |
BULAWAYO – One of the two women seen physically accosting former cricket player Dumisani Mankunzini in social media videos that circulated last week, has been identified as a journalism student accusing the controversial sportsman of fleecing her of 6 000 Rands and US$200.
In a statement recorded before a Bulawayo Magistrates Courts officer, National University of Science (NUST) student Mazini Mlalazi – who has been pushed to the brink of “suicide” according to close friends – said Mankunzini duped her of money and a laptop laden with important study material.
Mankunzini, reacting through his lawyer, claims to have been involved in a romantic relationship with Mlalazi, and that the monies in question were in fact “gifts” given to him by her in happier times.
In court papers, Mlalazi said she was a disadvantaged student whose South Africa-based brother pays for her education at NUST.
It is said that when the ex-cricketer told Mlalazi that he was traveling back home from South Africa at the beginning of June, she requested him to collect tuition fees of 6 000 Rands from her brother, to be delivered to her upon Mankunzini’s arrival in Bulawayo.
While Mankunzini was supposedly traveling back to Bulawayo, he allegedly contacted Mlalazi requesting an urgent loan of US$200 to pay for a Zimbabwe “cricket media accreditation” whose deadline was due to expire before his arrival.
The 30-year-old former Matabeleland Tuskers spin bowler – who has attempted to venture into cricket journalism in his post-playing days – is said to have promised to reimburse Mlalazi’s $200, as well as delivering the 6 000 Rands, as soon as he had arrived in Bulawayo.
Mlalazi claims that Mankunzini put her in contact with a Bulawayo-based friend of his, who she duly met to hand over the $200, painstakingly saved towards examination fees.
Trouble started when days and weeks elapsed without trace of Mankunzini, who on being quizzed by Mlalazi in several phone exchanges, explained that his vehicle had broken down on the way from South Africa, causing the delay.
Desperate, Mlalazi pleaded with Mankunzini to at least, in the meantime, avail the $200, which was urgently needed at college.
When Mankunzini said he was unable to process any payment in his absence, he allegedly advised Mlalazi to borrow the $200 from a certain Bulawayo “loan shark”. This was to be repaid with the stipulated loan interest, as well as handing over the 6 000 Rands, once Mankunzini finally reached Bulawayo.
With Mankunzini never to appear, and Mlalazi realising she might have been swindled, a church friend says the 25-year-old Journalism and Media Studies student has been crying daily and “threatening to take her own life because she feels she has let down not only herself, but her brother and mother who have sacrificed so much for her education.”
The loan shark, it is said, is now threatening to sell Mlalazi’s laptop for failure to settle her loan.
Matters came to a head last week when Mlalazi and a friend bumped into Mankunzini in central Bulawayo, as seen in two amateur-shot videos.
In the first, the two young women are seen waylaying Mankunzini, holding him by the belt and leg, trying to confiscate the former cricketer’s mobile phone and demanding Mlalazi’s money.
In the ensuing scuffle, Mankunzini manages to free himself and takes off, with the athletic agility of the sportsman he is. But not without Mlalazi in hot pursuit, and onlookers screaming after the ex-cricketer: “Sela! Sela! (Thief! Thief!).”
The second clips shows Mlalazi’s spirited chase yielding results. Mankunzini is caught by a group of men standing at a car. Following a brief exchange, a settlement is reached by the parties to go to a police station.
On Friday, Mlalazi and Mankunzini had statements recorded at the courts, with the ex-cricketer giving his side of the story. Mlalazi was asked to return with evidence to support her claims.
Mankunzini denied the allegations that he defrauded Mlalazi.
Incensed by Mankunzini’s statement, an emotionally charged and wailing Mlalazi beat up the former lower-divisions cricketer on the way from the courtyard.
Mlalazi was briefly detained at Bulawayo Central Police Station and released after a statement was recorded. The court is now waiting for a medical report to see the extent of the injuries caused by the NUST student. Meanwhile, she will be reporting to police until the results are out.
Meanwhile, Dumisani Dube, Mankunzini’s lawyer, told Nehanda Radio that it is in fact Mlalazi who has turned into “the accused person” following the attack on his client.
“Allegations against Mankunzini were thrown out by the prosecution as there was no reasonable suspicion that an offence was committed,” said Dube.
“Mankunzini was actually being attended by medical doctors at UBH (United Bulawayo Hospital) for assault injuries inflicted on him by the accused person, Mazini Mlalazi.”
Mlalazi, Dube went on, had given Mankunzini the money as gifts when the two were dating. Following separation, Mlalazi was now hell-bent on maligning the image of her ex-boyfriend, claimed the lawyer.
“Mazini Mlalazi and Mankunzini were in a relationship which has ended, and the former should accept that relationships end, without being malicious and vindicate,” he said.
“All gifts given during the relationship cannot be claimed back.”
Dube added that he was “waiting for police to advise when we are going to court” on assault charges against Mlalazi.
Mankunzini, however, isn’t new to controversy. He has made newspaper headlines in Zimbabwe and South Africa over the past two years, accused of different alleged fraudulent activities involving several unsuspecting victims.
Last week, a well-known Bulawayo prophet, Blessing Chiza, told a city tabloid that Mankunzini had defrauded several members of his church on separate occasions.
The alleged victims include four who were left stranded at Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare after the ex-cricketer allegedly bolted out of the lodgings without paying, having travelled to the capital city for a botched investment deal. Nehanda Radio