UMGUZA miner Moffat Assan Phiri has had a rough experience with the law after he allegedly masqueraded as a council official and defrauded desperate Bulawayo home-seekers of $3 700 in a residential stands scam.
BY SILAS NKALA
Phiri (49) who owns Lonely Mine last week appeared in court for allegedly defrauding two Bulawayo residents of their money after promising to secure stands for them in the Montgomery area.
The court heard that Phiri had posed as an employee of Umguza Rural District Council.
However, Phiri, through his lawyer Russell Dzete denied the charge when he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushove. He was granted free bail and remanded to September 4 for continuation of trial.
The State alleges that Phiri defrauded Artwell Jenamu (22) of Mpopoma of $1 970 and Ntandoyenkosi Sibanda (31) of Mahatshula North of $1 800.
In his defence, Phiri, however, accused the complainants of fabricating the charges to tarnish his image. He challenged the complainants to provide proof that he collected some money from them. He said the only money he knew is the $30 which he paid to Umguza RDC. He said he was used by Wellington Ngwenya whom he accused of collecting the money from the two and later directing them to demand repayment from him.
“Ngwenya used me that is why they are accusing me,” Phiri said. “Ngwenya was arrested ahead of me, but police released him, perhaps the police officers who released him are the ones who coached the two to say I defrauded them.”
Prosecutor Simba Manyiwa told the court that on April 21 2015, Jenamu met one Misheck Ngwenya who told him that Phiri who was mostly known as Ncube was involved in the selling of stands at Montgomery plots. He made him pay $30 to be shortlisted on the Umguza RDC waiting list.
On April 25, Ngwenya allegedly demanded $300 for the purchase of the stand form. He allegedly later demanded a 50% down payment for the stand whose price was fixed at $2 500.
On May 23, Jenamu allegedly paid the money to Ngwenya who gave it to Phiri. Phiri allegedly later demanded a further $420 purportedly for Mhlahlandlela government officials to fast track the process, which Jenamu paid.
In March, another victim Sibanda allegedly fell for the same trap and paid $30 for the application form and an additional $1 500 down payment for the stand.
Phiri later met Sibanda at Umguza RDC entrance and demanded another $300 to show her the stand. Phiri allegedly went with her to Montgomery plots where he showed her the stand and told her to pay full amount. Sibanda returned to inquire with Umguza RDC and discovered that Phiri had conned her. The two reported the matter to the police, leading to Phiri’s arrest.
They both lost a total of $3770 and nothing was recovered.