Fungai Lupande Court Reporter—
A MBARE couple which created a Facebook Page where the wife used a fake name to lure men, was yesterday each sentenced to an effective one year in prison after tricking an unsuspecting suitor into paying $4 000 lobola. Brian Nkatazo Mathe (30) connived with his wife Stephanie Pullen (22) to play brother and sister before tricking a Kuwadzana, Harare, man into paying lobola.
Harare magistrate Ms Victoria Mashamba sentenced the couple to two-and-a-half years in jail each before suspending a year for five years on condition of good behaviour.
Six months of both sentences were suspended on condition that they restitute the complainant, Nyakanyaka Msipani, $4 029 on or before September 30.
They will both serve an effective year in prison. In passing the sentence, Ms Mashamba said it was unheard of that a man marries off his wife.
“You have looked down upon the marriage institution. They caused emotional and psychological stress to the complainant who believed that he was getting married,” said Ms Mashamba.
“A sharp and short custodial sentence will meet justice in this case and serve as a reminder to this couple that crime does not pay.”
In mitigation, the two said they have crèche-going children and are expecting.
The prosecutor Ms Patience Chimusaru said sometime in February this year, Mathe and Pullen hatched a plan to open a Facebook account.
Pullen would use the account to lure Msipani (56) into falling in love with her.
The couple later met Msipani and the wife introduced her husband as her brother.
Msipani and Pullen agreed to marry, but the former was told that their parents passed on some years back and only Mathe could stand in the position of the in-laws.
The court heard that Msipani paid $3 000 in March through bank transfers to Mathe.
Mathe then presided over the marriage process and promised to escort the complainant’s new “wife” to his residence after two weeks.
After almost two weeks of waiting, Msipani received a call from Mathe advising him that his wife was in urgent need of medical assistance.
Msipani gave Mathe his bank debit card and PIN number with instructions to use only $100, but, instead the couple went on to withdraw $589.
They later met Msipani and indicated to him that they had used all the money to pay medical bills and requested groceries from him.
The three went to a supermarket where Mathe told Msipani that he could get cash back.
The court heard Pullen then took Msipani’s other bank card and went into the shop, leaving Mathe and Msipani outside the shop.
The couple then disappeared again with the bank card which had $440. The two went on to squander all the money.
Msipani later came across Mathe in the central business district and caused his arrest.