A 37-YEAR-OLD Victoria Falls man is facing fraud charges after he allegedly swindled his friend-cum-business partner of cash and assets worth more than $50 000.
Sikhumbuzo Phiri appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushove, where he is facing three counts of fraud and one of theft.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Two witnesses who are workers at a lodge owned by the complainant, Jansson Paul, testified that Phiri was involved in shoddy deals.
The trial will continue on November 24 when Paul is expected to testify.
Prosecutor Caroline Matenga told the court that sometime in August 2010, Paul constructed a lodge in Victoria Falls and named it Mandebele lodge.
He then appointed Phiri as director since they were close friends. Paul resided mostly in Sweden and he wanted someone to take care of business.
Sometime in 2013, Phiri was assigned by the complainant to withdraw some money from his personal Barclays Bank account and buy some cars for use at the lodge.
Phiri bought the cars — a Toyota Hiace, Nissan Elgrand and a Toyota Nadia — with a combined value of $26 100, but registered them in his name.
It is alleged that in June last year, Phiri asked for $700 from Paul to sort out some personal problems.
He was given a go-ahead to withdraw the money, but instead he withdrew $19 252 and converted the money to his own use.
Phiri is accused of using the powers he had been given as director of the lodge to withdraw a total of $9 687 from the lodge’s Stanbic account, faking Paul’s signature in all the withdrawals.
Matanga also told the court that taking advantage of Paul’s absence, he forged a share certificate of the lodge and allocated himself 51% and Paul 49%, resulting in him having the majority shares, without the consent of the complainant.
Out of all the money and cars he allegedly defrauded his business partner, nothing was recovered as the Toyota Hiace was impounded by the Vehicle Inspection Department in Bulawayo after Phiri was found ferrying passengers without operators’ licence and passenger’s insurance.
The Nissan Elegrand was sold to a car dealer, while the Toyota Nadia was attached by the messenger of court in Victoria Falls after Phiri failed to settle a debt.