Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
A fraudster who masqueraded as former High Court judge Justice Mafios Cheda and swindled several Government officials of large sums of money was jailed for an effective three years and two months.
Tinashe Munhuweyi (36), of Mufakose in Harare, would call the victims and introduce himself as Justice Cheda and would pretend to be desperate and in urgent need of financial help.
He conned Deputy Minister for Defence and War Veterans Affairs Victor Matemadanda, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Dr Sekai Nzenza and Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Richard Moyo.
Other victims include Great Zimbabwe University Professor Ben Siyakwazi and a relative to late retired High Court judge, Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe, Naboth.
The named victims lost a total of over $12 000.
Munhuweyi was convicted by magistrate Mrs Rumbidzai Mugwagwa after a full trial.
In aggravation, prosecutor Ms Patience Chimusaru called for a lengthy prison term, arguing that Munhuweyi brought the name of Justice Cheda into disrepute.
Convinced by the State’s submissions, the magistrate said there was need for a deterrent sentence which would send a message to would-be offenders.
She then sentenced Munhuweyi to 56 months in prison before setting aside six months on condition of good behaviour and a further 12 months were suspended on condition he restitutes all the victims on or before January 1, next year.
She effected 38 months, but failure to pay back the money, Munhuweyi will serve an effective 50 months.
On September 17 last year, Munhuweyi contacted Cde Matemadanda while purporting to be Justice Cheda and misrepresented that he had two trucks which had run out of fuel at Chirundu Border Post.
He requested for $600 to refuel the trucks and pay for other expenses. Munhuweyi asked Cde Matemadanda to transfer the money into a supplied EcoCash account and promised to repay the debt.
Munhuweyi became evasive after receiving the money.
When Cde Matemadanda testified during trial, he said when he received the call for help from the imposter, he was made to believe it was Justice Cheda since they had met on several occasions.
He said when Munhuweyi became evasive, he then conducted his own investigations and later spoke to the real Justice Cheda, who knew nothing about the transactions.
According to Cde Matemadanda, Justice Cheda even said he had also received various complaints of people who had been duped in his name.
On November 28, Munhuweyi, the court heard, contacted Minister Nzenza masquerading as Justice Cheda and lied that his nephew had a truck carrying fertiliser which had a breakdown on its way from South Africa.
He asked for $825 to fix the truck before asking for a further $863 the following day which he said was for fuel.
The money was sent via EcoCash.
Minister Nzenza became suspicious due to the unending demands and made her own investigations which unearthed the scam.
Using the same modus operandi, Munhuweyi defrauded Professor Siyakwazi after misrepresenting that his son “Christian Cheda” had died while on his way to India for medical attention.
He then said he was looking for financial assistance towards his son’s funeral.