Man swindles farmer US$18 000 Suspected fraudster Walter Makwalo arrives at Harare Magistrates Court yesterday. — Picture: Lee Maidza

Prosper Dembedza

Herald Correspondent 

A person claiming to be from the Central Intelligence Organisation yesterday appeared in court on allegations of swindling US$18 000 from a Mt Hampden farmer who paid that amount out for a range of bribes that the self-proclaimed CIO officer said were needed for him to get back US$170 000 that others had defrauded him of two years ago.

Walter Makwalo (34) was facing 18 counts of fraud when he appeared before Harare magistrate Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa, who remanded him to Friday for his bail ruling.

Allegations are that in 2021, Mr Simon George Lee was allegedly defrauded of US$170 600 by Gabrielle Arezio and Maurizio Arezio. He reported the two to the police in November last year.

Mr Lee then told his friend, Mr Shadreck Zimondi, about the fraud, and was advised to seek Makwalo’s services.

It is alleged that during the first week of January this year, Mr Lee was introduced to Makwalo by Mr Zimondi and Mr Takudzwa Tsikwa. 

It is the State’s case that Makwalo allegedly told Mr Lee that he was the officer commanding operations of the southern region of the Central Intelligence Organisation. The court heard that Mr Lee allegedly outlined his problem to Makwalo who said he would assist him in locating and arresting the two and recovering the money. 

Makwalo then allegedly started demanding money to bribe police, prosecutors, magistrates, prison officers, staff of the Office of the President and Cabinet and even a judge, the total payments totalling the US$18 000 before Mr Lee called a halt.

He first said arresting the Arezios required payment of US$500 to police officers who would deal with the matter, although Makwalo knew very well that such police service was rendered for free.

The State alleges that on January 13, Makwalo lured Maurizio to meet him in Pomona, Borrowdale, and he agreed. Makwalo then accompanied Mr Lee to meet Maurizio, and then arrested him, before taking him to CID Commercial Crimes Division Northern Region.

Makwalo then demanded US$500 purportedly to give to CID officers to detain Maurizio, and that he was given. On January 14, Maurizio appeared in court at the Harare Magistrates Court, and Makwalo then demanded US$600, purportedly for the public prosecutor and magistrate so that he be denied bail.

Another US$300 was then demanded by Makwalo, allegedly for the investigating officer, and US$600 for the chief prosecutor, to facilitate the smooth process of their plan.

Makwalo also allegedly claimed that some senior Zanu PF officials and that bosses from the Office of the President and Cabinet also needed US$2 000 each for them to monitor the case, and he was given the money

On January 18, Makwalo again demanded US$450 for the prosecutor, US$250 for the investigating officer, and US$500 for the magistrate, to give a favourable ruling to Mr Lee.

After Maurizio had been denied bail, on January 19, Makwalo demanded US$200 to pass to the Officer-in-Charge prisons to make sure Maurizio would not receive favourable treatment in prison, and he was allegedly given the money.

Maurizio then applied for bail at the High Court and Makwalo allegedly told Mr Lee that judges demanded US$1 000 to be on his side, and was given the money on January 27.

He further demanded various amounts of money totalling US$11 000 after allegedly misrepresenting to Mr Lee, who later reported the matter to the police.

In the end Mr Lee had allegedly paid out US$18 000 to Makwalo.

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