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Chirumhanzu councilor goes to jail over land fraud

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Chirumhanzu councilor goes to jail over land fraud


Simbarashe Mtembo

MASVINGO – After last month’s drama where a convicted fraudster attempted to run away to freedom, Police added security at the High Court in Masvingo on Wednesday as an appeal against jail sentence by a Zanu PF councilor was being heard.
The screen gate to the High Court was locked and Chirumhanzu RDC Ward 20 Councillor Joseph Mutendi (38) was put in leg irons as the verdict on his appeal was heard.
Justice Mawadze, sitting with Justice Zisengwe upheld the verdict by Magistrate Constance Mutandwa. Mutandwa sentenced Mutendi to 15 months in jail and suspended eight months.
Mutendi who wanted the seven months custodial sentence to be altered to community service appeared jointly with his accomplice Collen Tigere (41).
The duo defrauded a client looking for land of US$9 000.
Mutandwa suspend five months on condition of good behavior and a further three months on condition that the duo restitute Learnmore Dzenga US$2 350.
In passing judgment, Justice Mawadze said courts are overwhelmed with cases of fake offer letters produced by unsuspecting land seekers in Mvuma.
He said Mutendi is a Zanu PF councillor who should understand Government’s policy and stance on selling and allocating land.
“Documents were forged in the matter and this goes just beyond word of mouth. The crime was committed by a gang and this shows premeditation to commit fraud. You were just greedy and have actually prejudiced someone of his hard-earned United States dollars. The Magistrate did not ere in giving you the sentence. What message will we sent to others?” he said.
Mutendi met Dzenga on April 3, 2022, at Mandizvidza Truck stop, Mvuma and misrepresented that he owned a 50 hectare plot in Binga Estates, Mvuma that he was willing to sell for US$13 000.
Dzenga went to see the plot with Mutendi’s accomplices Takunda Zenda and Anderson Hamandishe who are still at large. He then agreed to sell the land to Dzenga for US$11 000.
Dzenga paid US$9 000 in installments and was issued with a fake offer letter backdated to August 9, 2019, and a signed document acknowledging receipt of his installments. Mutendi also phoned him acknowledging receipt of the money.
He discovered that the offer letter was fake and was issued another offer letter backdated to August 2021. Dzenga later went to erect structures on the land and was chased away by Mambewu Shumba who claimed ownership to it.
Dzenga went to Mvuma lands office and was told that he has a fake offer letter and he filed a Police report against Mutendi and his accomplices. The signed acknowledgements of receipt and two fake offer letters were produced as exhibits in court.

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