Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
An unrepentant Seke villager, who was convicted last year for registering cellphone lines in the names of prominent Zanu-PF politicians which he then used to swindle unsuspecting farmers of thousands of dollars, was yesterday back in court facing similar charges.
Blessing Mazarura (28), who was last year given a wholly suspended sentence on condition he performed 420 hours of community and restitute the farmers of $7 100, was arrested last week for swindling more farmers using the same method.
In the latest case and between February and last week, Mazarura allegedly swindled farmers from Masvingo, Harare and Beitbridge of more than $4 000 through dubious farming input schemes and land allocations.
He registered the lines using other names of Zanu-PF politicians.
Mazarura would call 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 farmers would fall for the trap because the EcoCash confirmation would indicate that the recipient of the cash was the prominent politician in whose name Mazarura would have registered the cellphone line.
Politicians whose names were used this time were Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Cde Biggie Matiza, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Cde Paddy Zhanda and Arda chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza.
Last year, Mazarura was convicted of 30 counts of fraud after using names of former Zanu-PF Politburo members Mr Didymus Mutasa and Cde Tendai Savanhu and committee member Cde Munacho Mutezo.
The names of Zanu-PF legislators Cde Daniel Shumba and Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa and MDC-T legislator Mr Innocent Gonese were also used.
Mazarura was given a wholly suspended sentence the first time he appeared in court on condition he performs 420 hours of community service and 28 months were set aside on condition he restitutes the farmers.
When he appeared before Mr Tendai Mahwe yesterday, prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa notified the court during bail application that Mazarura defaulted and neither restituted the complainants nor performed the community service on his previous conviction.
Mr Mutizirwa indicated Mazarura was not a proper candidate for bail considering that he committed the fresh offence soon after he was convicted of similar charges.
Mr Mahwe said he had no choice, but to send Mazarura to prison to serve the previously suspended term of 28 months in prison for failing to restitute the farmers.
On the fresh charges, he was remanded in custody to March 30.
Mazarura, of Murisa Village under Chief Seke, reportedly bought six Econet lines between February and March this year and registered them on EcoCash in the names of the said politicians.
Mazarura, it is alleged, phoned farmers from Masvingo, Harare and Beitbridge and informed them that they had qualified for an agricultural input and farm implements scheme.
He allegedly ordered the farmers to deposit money into the EcoCash accounts on the pretext it was meant for fuel to enable smooth transportation of the inputs and implements.
Mazarura would advise the farmers to collect “receipts” from their local council offices as proof of payment.
He would bribe Ecocash agents and withdraw the money without producing identity documents and converted it to his personal use.
Upon his arrest, he was found in possession of some of the cellphone lines used to commit the offences.