HomeNewsCourtsMasvingo woman slaps Zupco with $1,5m suit

Masvingo woman slaps Zupco with $1,5m suit

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A SERVICE station owner in Masvingo is suing troubled public transport operator Zupco for $1,5 million over loss of business and damages after she was falsely accused of stealing fuel from the company.

By Tatenda Chitagu

Martina Mushangwe filed a civil suit at the High Court under case number 2236/15 after she was acquitted of fraud charges levelled against her by Zupco.

Masvingo magistrate Learnmore Ndokera on May 18 acquitted Mushangwe, who was accused of swindling 12 575 liters of diesel worth $15 845 from Zupco.

The parastatal had filed a civil case claiming $17 606 or return of the fuel after it accused Mushangwe of failing to account for part of the 22 383 litres stored at her UniOil Service Station on December 3.

The fuel had been reserved to transport Zanu PF delegates to their party’s congress in Harare last year.

The civil case is still pending.

Mushangwe was let off the hook at the criminal court after it emerged that the two parties had a mutual verbal agreement that she would keep the fuel at her service station as a pool.

Zupco and the businesswoman were supposed to use the fuel for their businesses since the dealer had a single tank, which holds
24 000 litres.

Mushangwe was supposed to reimburse the fuel she had used from Zupco upon the delivery of her next order.

Following her acquittal, Mushangwe turned the tables against Zupco claiming that she lost business from her suppliers and her next order was delayed after she was arrested on theft charges as well as defamation.

“On the 24th of December 2014, Zupco made a malicious report to the police which resulted in me being arrested on false allegations of stealing fuel, charges which were found to be baseless after a full trial at the courts,” she said in the application.

“I suffered damages of $20 000.
“After the arrest, I was subsequently detained in a filthy police cell for 48 hours. I suffered damages for loss of liberty in the sum of $100 000.

“During the period extending from my day of arrest up to now, I have not been able to conduct my business of retailing fuel because my suppliers thought I am a crook.

“I lost business and future business and I claim damages in the sum of $1,2 million,” read the suit.

She claimed another $30 000 for legal fees during her criminal trial. Mushangwe also claimed another $150 000 for defamation after her arrest was published in a local daily newspaper saying her reputation as an honest and hardworking businesswoman was injured due to the falsehoods.

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