A GOLD deal worth $23 500 between a South African national and three Zimbabweans went sour after the dealer failed to honour his part of the bargain and later allegedly set thugs on the trio when they visited him to demand their money.
The South African, Stephen Ngwenya (31), who is a gold dealer and owns some mining claims in Fort Rixon in Insiza district, Matabeleland South, yesterday appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Crispen Mberewere facing a fraud charge.
Ngwenya admitted in court that he owed Sithembile Moyo, Viana Ndlovu and Tendai Gwatirera, but denied the charge of fraud saying he was willing to reimburse them given a chance.
Mberewere remanded Ngwenya out of custody to March 13 for continuation of trial and his travel documents are in the police’s possession.
Prosecutor Vivianah Chikomo told the court that sometime in February 2011, Ngwenya, who gave his local residential address as Magwegwe in Bulawayo, approached Moyo of Mpopoma to engage her in a business deal.
Ngwenya wanted someone to invest money into his business of buying and selling gold and told Moyo that he wanted the investor to inject $23 500 to buy of gold which he would then sell in South Africa and reimburse the investor plus a $5 000 profit within a week.
After being lured into the lucrative deal, Moyo invited her friends Ndlovu and Gwatirera who both agreed to invest.
It is the State’s case that the three then raised $23 500 and handed it to Ngwenya via Moyo.
Ngwenya reportedly went to Fort Rixon where he bought the gold and promised that he would sell it and bring their cash back within a week.
However, Ngwenya is said to have become evasive by making several excuses for failing to return the money within the agreed timeframe.
He is alleged to have paid $2 000 after being confronted by Moyo 12 months later and another $2 500 on December 23 2012 and $1 500 upon his return to Zimbabwe on January 15 this year.
His alleged misrepresentation prejudiced the complainants $17 500.
In his defence, Ngwenya said he is a South African and only comes to Zimbabwe to run his mining activities in Fort Rixon.
He said in engaging Moyo and others for a deal, his intention was not to defraud them, but to get into proper business, adding that if given time he would settle the remainder of the money he owed them.
However, Moyo said Ngwenya was a scary character as he had once threatened them when they went to South Africa after he had promised to settle the payment.
“We went with him to South Africa and while we were there, his friends threatened us with guns telling us to leave Stephen alone, she said.
“We then went to a police station in South Africa where we were advised to report to police in Zimbabwe.”
Moyo said at one time while in South Africa, she boarded a vehicle which she believed belonged to Ngwenya’s colleagues and was pushed out.
“We did not see Stephen properly in South Africa and came back and reported the matter,” Moyo said.
“In December he paid us $2 500 after the detectives got him and since then he disappeared until he was arrested on his return into Zimbabwe in January, that is when he gave us $1 500 through the police. We are afraid to approach him on our own.”
Ngwenya said if they were threatened in South Africa, they should have reported the matter to the police.
Moyo said they were not able to report the matter to the police because they did not know his real name since he was being called Ngubane while in South Africa.
Ngwenya asked the court to consider giving him the opportunity to go and mill his gold ores in Fort Rixon so that he pays part of the money he owes Moyo, Ndlovu and Gwatirera.
He also pleaded with Moyo to consider having the matter settled out of court, but she said they were afraid of him since they were threatened with guns in his name.
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