Sheillah Mapani Herald Reporter
An Epworth man, who defrauded Harare businessman Douglas Mamvura of $350 000 three years ago after fraudulently taking over his shares in a joint business venture, was last Thursday sentenced to five years in prison after the High Court overturned his acquittal.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya, who initially acquitted Tonderai Muocha and his accomplice Israel Tangwena, who is still on the run, in 2014 sentenced Muocha to five years in prison, but suspended two years on condition of good behaviour.
Two more years were suspended on condition that Muocha restitutes Mamvura the sum of $121 722 by August 1, 2018.
He will serve an effective one year in prison.
Mr Mujaya had acquitted the pair, prompting Mr Michael Reza, the prosecutor, to file an appeal at the High Court.
Mr Reza submitted that the court relied on the evidence of Cosmas Bhosha when, in the fact, he had told the court that his evidence was hearsay.
High Court Judge Justice Edith Mushore expressed dismay at the way the case was handled at the lower court and overturned the not-guilty verdict.
She also ordered that the duo be retried.
The State proved that from July 2013 to July 2014, Tangwena and Muocha sweet-talked Mamvura to invest in an agro-business venture called Hedgehold Trading (Private) Limited and promised to make him a controlling shareholder.
The pair needed cash injection to rescue their agri-business, Makonde Industries, which was under liquidation.
The plan involved Hedgehold Trading effectively purchasing Makonde Industries and assuming its liabilities.
They agreed that Mamvura would become the majority shareholder, with a 75 percent stake, with Tangwena and Muocha owning 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
The late Fanuel Chimbindi owned the other 5 percent, while the remaining 4 percent was to be owned by a charity fund called Open Tribe Foundation Trust.
Mamvura injected $350 000 in the new business. Of this, $250 000 was a loan secured from Stanbic Bank, which was secured by his Borrowdale home, while the other $100 000 was a CBZ Bank loan, which he got after putting up another property.
Muocha and Tangwena decided to change the company’s ownership by filing fraudulent company ownership documents that purported that Mamvura had resigned and that the company’s entire shareholding was being put under the ownership of Open Tribe Foundation Trust.
On realising that he had been duped, Mamvura reported the matter to the police, leading to the arrest of the pair.