Chigumba in court for fraud

property fraudTendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
Chitungwiza South legislator Cde Christopher Chigumba was yesterday arraigned before the courts to answer to charges of defrauding the then ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development of Z$6 000 000 equivalent to $157 274 in a botched land deal.

The offence was committed in 1999 and according to the prevailing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe exchange rate at the time the offence was committed, $1 was equivalent to ZWD38.15

Chigumba’s company, Chigumba Property Holding Private Limited is being cited as the first accused while the second accused is him in his personal capacity. Chigumba yesterday appeared before magistrate Ms Rekina Dzikiti on summons and the matter was remanded to March 31 for commencement of trial. According to the State, during that time, Chigumba was the owner of Roon Estate in Kadoma measuring 3 475 hectares registered in his company’s name. Prosecutor Mr George Manokore assisted by Ms Farirai Nyamutowa alleges that on December 24 1994, Chigumba indicated to Alex Shumba his former business partner that he was selling the said land at a cost of Z$1 600 000.

They both agreed that Shumba would pay the money in installments.

It is the State’s case that Shumba paid Z$251 000 to Chigumba on January 24 1995 and an agreement of sale was signed prompting Shumba to occupy the farm. Shumba, the court heard, further paid Z$350 000 in the form of hundred cattle before giving Chigumba his vehicle, a Mercedes Benz which was equivalent to Z$350 000.

He later realised that Chigumba owed Stanbic Bank Z$500 000 hence they were the ones in possession of the title deeds to the farm. According to the State, Shumba paid off the debt and was given the title deeds. In 1998, Shumba found out that Chigumba owed Scotfin Bank Z$200 000 and the bank had obtained a writ of execution against the farm and again he settled the debt.

On November 4, 1999, Chigumba, the State alleges, sold the same farm to the then Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Water Development for Z$6 000 000 and the Ministry paid in full.

Chigumba then submitted an affidavit in which he claimed that he had lost the title deeds to the farm yet he knew that they were being held by Shumba, the court heard. The farm was later placed in the Government Gazette and subsequently the deed of transfer was endorsed in terms of section 10 (3) of the Land Acquisition Act chapter 20:10.

As a result of the misrepresentation, the ministry suffered an actual prejudice of Z$6 000 000 and nothing was recovered, the State alleges.