Lawyer accused of swindling client US$13k

Prosper Dembedza Herald Correspondent

A Harare lawyer has appeared in court on allegations of defrauding an unsuspecting client who paid US$13 000 for legal services which were never rendered.

Bornwell Balamanja (43), of Hlabano Law Chambers, was facing fraud charges when he appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Dennis Mangosi.

It is the State’s case that on multiple occasions over a three-year period between 2020 and 2023, the complainant, Ms Tendai Mwariwangu (51), who is based in the United Kingdom, would hire Balamanja to deal with lawsuits she was involved in.

The court heard that Ms Mwariwangu first hired him in early 2020 and paid him US$7 300 to pursue both criminal and civil cases against one Edward Ruzvidzo.

Instead of using the money to pursue the lawsuits as instructed by his client, Balamanja allegedly took the money and lied that she had won the civil case at the High Court.

The court papers also stated that Balamanja claimed to have managed to attach Ruzvidzo’s house through the Sheriff of the High Court.

It is further alleged that after the initial ‘win’ at the High Court, Ms Mwariwangu went on to hire Balamanja  again to pursue her case against a shipping company called Lake Superior which is based in Eswatini.

Balamanja received US$4 030 after lying to the complainant that he was working on her case.

The State further told the court that during the same year, Ms Mwariwangu engaged Balamanja to pursue her case against Enock Mungiriya at Harare Magistrate’s Court.

He was given US$1 000 for the job and a further US$735 to recover Ms Mwariwangu’s stands and trucks in Gweru and again did nothing.

The court heard that in 2023, Balamanja was again instructed to sue Tafadzwa Mwariwangu. He then served the complainant with fake letters of demand.

The court further heard that Ms Mwariwangu realised that Balamanja was not pursuing the cases past the initial stages and was instead lying to her that she had won the lawsuits.

The complainant reportedly wrote a letter to the Judicial Service Commision (JSC) which informed her that her High Court application filed in 2021 had been dismissed as no follow-up had been made.

Aggrieved by what Balamanja had done, Ms Mwariwangu then reported the matter to police, saying she had been defrauded of US$13 065.

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