Mphoko's son locked up

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Bu­l­awayo Bureau

FOR­MER Vice Pres­i­dent Phelekezela Mphoko’s son, Siqoko­qela, has been ar­rested and re­manded in cus­tody af­ter he vi­o­lated bail con­di­tions by ha­rass­ing State wit­nesses.

Siqoko­qela is fac­ing 170 counts of fraud and theft. He al­legedly hi­jacked the Chop­pies re­tail busi­ness and “looted” more than $50 000 worth of cash and goods from the out­lets coun­try­wide with­out board ap­proval.

Siqoko­qela (40), who is di­rec­tor of Nanavac (Pri­vate) Lim­ited, a partner to the Botswana-reg­is­tered Chop­pies Dis­tri­bu­tion Cen­tre (Pro­pri­etary) Lim­ited, had been granted $200 bail on his ini­tial court ap­pear­ance be­fore Bu­l­awayo mag­is­trate Nyaradzo Ringi­sai. As part of the bail con­di­tions, Siqoko­qela of Hill­side sub­urb in Bu­l­awayo was sup­posed to re­side at his given ad­dress and not in­ter­fere with State wit­nesses

He how­ever vi­o­lated his bail con­di­tions when he in­ter­fered with State wit­nesses and threat­ened to get some of the wit­nesses who are of In­dian ori­gin de­ported.

Bu­l­awayo mag­is­trate Ms Glad­more Mushove on Thurs­day re­voked Siqoko­qela’s bail be­fore re­mand­ing him in cus­tody to De­cem­ber 13 for trial. The rul­ing by Ms Mushove fol­lows an ap­pli­ca­tion for bail re­vo­ca­tion by the State.

The State ar­gued that Siqoko­qela in­ter­fered with its wit­nesses.

“The ac­cused per­son vi­o­lated his bail con­di­tions by in­ter­fer­ing with State wit­nesses. He threat­ened one wit­ness with dis­missal if he tes­ti­fied against him. He also threat­ened two other wit­nesses of In­dian ori­gin,” said the State.

The State sum­moned four wit­nesses, among them the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, to tes­tify in sup­port of its ap­pli­ca­tion for re­vo­ca­tion of bail. Siqoko­qela, through his lawyer Pro­fes­sor Welsh­man Ncube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Cham­bers, said his com­mit­tal to prison pend­ing trial was a mere re­sponse to board­room dis­putes in the com­pany.

“It is sub­mit­ted that on the facts there are no com­pelling rea­sons to deny the ac­cused per­son his right to bail pend­ing trial. The proven go­ings on in the com­pany are a nat­u­ral in­evitable con­se­quence of the dis­putes among share­hold­ers and di­rec­tors more so in cir­cum­stances where the com­plainant has acted un­law­fully in deny­ing ac­cused per­son his salary and fuel al­lo­ca­tion in a man­ner cal­cu­lated to cause pain and pro­voke him,” said Prof Ncube.

Siqoko­qela, who is a share­holder in the re­tail busi­ness and a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, is ac­cused of abus­ing his power to “loot” cash re­alised from sales at dif­fer­ent su­per­mar­kets and re­plac­ing it with trans­fers. Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, be­tween July last year and June this year, Siqoko­qela pro­ceeded to var­i­ous Chop­pies su­per­mar­kets where he al­legedly de­manded vary­ing amounts of cash, goods and ser­vices for var­i­ous pur­poses from the em­ploy­ees with­out ap­proval from the board.

He de­ceived the em­ploy­ees into be­liev­ing that he was the one at the helm of Chop­pies Zim­babwe and had au­thor­ity to de­mand or col­lect any­thing he wanted from the busi­ness. He also told the em­ploy­ees that he had the au­thor­ity to col­lect goods on a credit fa­cil­ity.

It was stated that on dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions, Siqoko­qela col­lected cash, gro­ceries and an as­sort­ment of build­ing ma­te­rial and or­dered per­son­nel from the fi­nance depart­ment not to deduct the money from his salary. There were oc­ca­sions when he also mis­rep­re­sented that he in­tended to re­place the money through swip­ing from Point of Sale (POS) ma­chines.

Siqoko­qela, by virtue of be­ing a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, was en­ti­tled to a monthly gross salary of $10 000, com­pany ve­hi­cle, fuel, tele­phone al­lowance and 3,53 per­cent of profit af­ter tax as div­i­dend at the end of each year. Al­though he was not sup­posed to be di­rectly in­volved in the day to day op­er­a­tions of the com­pany, Siqoko­qela al­legedly mas­quer­aded as the owner of the com­pany in Zim­babwe and even threat­ened to ei­ther dis­miss or de­port em­ploy­ees of In­dian ori­gin for de­fy­ing his or­ders.

The mat­ter came to light in May 2018 when the Botswana based Chop­pies group chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Mr Ot­ta­p­athu Ra­machan­dran, dis­cov­ered that there were a se­ries of fi­nan­cial im­bal­ances while go­ing through the com­pany man­age­ment ac­count­ing books.

It was dis­cov­ered that the com­pany was prej­u­diced of $51 945,53. The mat­ter was re­ported to the po­lice and in­ves­ti­ga­tions were con­ducted lead­ing to Siqoko­qela’s ar­rest and noth­ing was re­cov­ered.

Siqoko­qela Mphoko

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