Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
FORMER Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and his son, Siqokoqela, have exited Choppies Supermarkets after offering to be bought out of the company to end a protracted ownership wrangle. The Mphokos’ lawyer, Professor Welshman Ncube, last night confirmed to The Chronicle that his clients were no longer shareholders of Botswana-based Nanavac Investments, trading as Choppies Supermarkets Zimbabwe.
Prof Ncube said he has since released a joint statement with Choppies Enterprises lawyer Mr Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga notifying the public about the latest development.
“We have been instructed by our clients Choppies Enterprise, Phelekezela Mphoko and Siqokoqela Mphoko, to advise the public and all staff of Nanavac Investments trading as Choppies Zimbabwe that on 9 January 2019 the shareholders and directors amicably resolved and settled all issues, matters, cases and disputes between and among themselves so that there are no longer any outstanding between our respective clients, who further advise that the Mphokos have disinvested from Choppies Zimbabwe and have no further interests in the company and its business,” reads the statement.
“Our respective clients wish each other well in their present and future endeavours.”
In an interview, Prof Ncube said his clients would be paid for 51 percent shareholding, but could not state the amounts of money involved.
At the height of their legal battles, Choppies Enterprises Mr Ramachandran Ottapathu alleged that that the Mphoko family owned only seven percent shareholding.
He said the other 44 percent was given to them to fulfil the indigenisation laws of the country. However, Prof Ncube insisted that his clients held 51 percent of the shares.
The fight became messy when Siqokoqela and his wife Nomagugu were dragged to court on charges of interfering with the operations of Choppies Distribution Centre and Choppies Enterprises. This followed accusations that they swindled the businesses of a combined $80 000.
Siqokoqela, who was shareholder in the retail business and a non-executive director, is accused of abusing his power to “loot” $50 000 in cash realised from sales at different supermarkets and replacing it with transfers.
Nomagugu is accused of allegedly bulldozing various Choppies outlets in Bulawayo and demanding cash. She is facing 49 counts of extortion.
The matter is still pending before the courts and both of them are out of $200 bail each.