Min­is­ter Shiri’s im­poster in court for swin­dling farm­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

AN un­re­pen­tant ex-con­vict who al­legedly reg­is­tered cell­phone lines in the name of Lands, Agri­cul­ture, Wa­ter, Cli­mate and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Min­is­ter Per­rance Shiri and used them to swin­dle un­sus­pect­ing farm­ers of over $10 000 through du­bi­ous land schemes, has ap­peared in court.

Bless­ing Vava (32) ap­peared be­fore mag­is­trate Mrs Rumbidzai Mug­wagwa who re­manded him in cus­tody to to­day for bail rul­ing.

Vava also reg­is­tered more lines in the names of Mary Shiri and Bri­gadier Brighton Manyika.

He would call the farm­ers us­ing the fraud­u­lently reg­is­tered lines ad­vis­ing them that they had qual­i­fied for land dis­tri­bu­tion be­fore or­der­ing them to send money for pro­cess­ing the of­fer let­ters through EcoCash.

The com­plainants would fall for the trap be­cause the EcoCash con­fir­ma­tion would in­di­cate that the re­cip­i­ent of the cash was Min­is­ter Shiri.

Vava was once jailed for sim­i­lar of­fences in 2014 and by then he was us­ing the name Bless­ing Mazarura.

Facts of the charges which Vava was con­victed of are that he reg­is­tered cell­phone lines in the names of prom­i­nent Zanu-PF politi­cians, which he used to swin­dle un­sus­pect­ing farm­ers of thou­sands of dol­lars through du­bi­ous farm­ing in­put schemes.

He would call the farm­ers us­ing the fraud­u­lently reg­is­tered lines ad­vis­ing them that they had qual­i­fied for agri­cul­tural inputs and im­ple­ments be­fore or­der­ing them to send money for trans­port through EcoCash.

The politi­cians whose names were used are Cde Didy­mus Mu­tasa, Cde Tendai Sa­vanhu, Cde Sim­ba­neuta Mu­darikwa, Cde Basil Nyabadza and Mr Mu­na­cho Mutezo.

MDC-T leg­is­la­tor Mr In­no­cent Gonese’s name was also used.

Mazarura, through his lawyer Mr John Ndomene of Ndomene and Ma­posa le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers, told the court that he re­cently changed his sur­name from Mazarura to Vava.

Ac­cord­ing to the State, the of­fences were com­mit­ted from May 10 to Septem­ber 28 this year. Vava al­legedly de­frauded 18 com­plainants. Pros­e­cut­ing, Mr Se­bas­tian Mu­tizirwa al­leged that on May 10, Vava con­tacted Mr Cullen Richards who had a pend­ing ap­peal at the min­istry over a farm in Beatrice.

As such, Vava in­structed Richards to pay $1 767 into Ecocash reg­is­tered in the name of Mary Shiri to­wards speed­ing up fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the ap­peal.

On May 17, Vava con­tacted an­other com­plainant Mr Wil­lard Mu­tazu who had ap­plied for a farm in Bin­dura and mis­rep­re­sented that his ap­pli­ca­tion was suc­cess­ful.

Richards was in­structed to trans­fer $135 into Ecocash reg­is­tered in the name of Mary Shiri.

e fol­low­ing day, Vava mis­rep­re­sented to John Chin’onzo who had ap­plied for land that his ap­pli­ca­tion was suc­cess­ful and was also in­structed to pay a pro­cess­ing fee of $195 via Ecocash.

On the same day, Vava called Craig John Wil­liam pur­port­ing to be Min­is­ter Shiri and lied that he could fa­cil­i­tate the is­suance of a 99-year lease.

Wil­liam was or­dered to pay a pro­cess­ing fee of $650.

On May 22, Vava, the Court heard, got in touch with Tapi­wanashe Gandiya and mis­rep­re­sented to him that his ap­pli­ca­tion for land in Maron­dera had been ap­proved, hence a pro­cess­ing fee of $420 was re­quired.

It is the State’s case that two days later, Moses Tendai Ching­wena was or­dered to pay $1 000 by Vava af­ter he was told that his ap­peal on the ac­qui­si­tion of a farm in Masvingo had been suc­cess­ful.

Ching­wena was told the money was meant for al­lowances of of­fi­cials from the min­istry who were sup­posed to travel to Masvingo to of­fi­ci­ate at the farm han­dover and de­mar­ca­tion of bound­aries.

Us­ing the same modus operandi, Vava duped sev­eral other farm­ers.

Some of the com­plainants fell for the trap and de­posited the money, while oth­ers re­fused af­ter they be­came sus­pi­cious.

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