Bogus judge in court
Senior Court Reporter
Beven Chipunza, who was cleared of kidnapping and extortion in November last year, was back in court yesterday on allegations of conning a litigant while masquerading as a High Court “junior judge”, a judicial title that does not exist.
Chipunza appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Dennis Mangosi charged with fraud, extortion and impersonating a public figure.
He was not asked to plead to the charges and was remanded in custody to Tuesday for his bail application.
The State led by Mr Zebadiah Bofu alleged that on December 14, 2020 Chipunza was arrested for kidnapping and extortion together with four others.
They were acquitted on November 22 last year. But just three days later, Chipunza sent a WhatsApp message to the complainant telling her that there were summons in his office at Harare Civil Court filed by Ackim Gunda, a co-accused in the extortion and kidnapping case.
The court heard that Chipunza sent the complainant a picture of the summons and invited her to Harare Civil Court.
The complainant allegedly went to Harare Civil Court where she was taken to a courtroom where Chipunza introduced himself as a junior judge and gave her the summons.
It is alleged that Chipunza told the woman that he could help her have the case dismissed using his influence as a junior judge and allegedly promised to process the appeal against the judgement given at Harare Magistrate Court.
He also allegedly told the complainant that he had links with Prosecutor General Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa, who was able to speed the process at the National Prosecution Authority.
Chipunza then allegedly took the complainant and her husband Marufu Chipondoro to the offices of the National Prosecution Authority of Zimbabwe where they met another man at the entrance to the building.
The said man allegedly introduced himself as Personal Assistant to Mr Mutsonziwa and told them that US$500 was needed to process the appeal.
The couple then gave Chipunza and his accomplice the money, a court heard.
On January 30, Chipunza allegedly called the complainant requesting an extra US$350 for fast processing of the appeal, but she indicated that she had no money and negotiated the price downwards. Chipunza agreed to US$160.
On the following day, the complainant was told that Chipunza was not a court official and at around midnight, Chipunza sent her a message and voice note requesting her to meet him at the High Court.
On Wednesday this week, the woman invited Chipunza to meet her at the High Court at around 11am for him to collect the money.
She then alerted the police and a trap was set, leading to Chipunza’s arrest.