By Tendai Rupapa
A Chinese woman lost more than US$2 million to four suspected fraudsters who allegedly lured her into Zimbabwe under the pretext that they could buy diamonds on her behalf. The complainant (name not supplied) brought with her US$2 120 000 in small denominations, but was allegedly advised by Mathew Musengezi (36) and his alleged accomplices – three Chinese men, including Huang Fei – that since they intended to buy the diamonds at ZMDC (Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation), they needed US$100 notes only.
The quartet ostensibly took the money to change it into the said denominations.
The gang, the court heard, then vanished with the money and nothing was recovered. One of the accused persons, Musengezi, appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Gideon Ruvetsa on Saturday, charged with fraud.
His alleged accomplices are reportedly still at large. Musengezi, however, walked out of the court a free man after his lawyer Mr Tawanda Takaindisa of TK Takaindisa Law Chambers successfully challenged his placement on remand.
In his application, Mr Takaindisa submitted that his client was not properly before the court, arguing that he was not warned and cautioned of the charge he was facing.
“Your Worship, my client did not sign the warned-and-cautioned statement as evidenced by the fact that it is not even attached on the request for remand form. He is improperly before the court,” he said.
“The complainant also is approaching the court with dirty hands because she is not licensed to deal in diamonds and, as such, the court is made to regularise an illegality.”
In response, prosecutor Mr Michael Reza opposed the application, arguing that at the remand stage, the warned-and-cautioned statement was not necessary.
“At this stage, it is not necessary for the warned-and-cautioned statement to be attached to the request for remand form. For purposes of placement on remand, all what is needed is a reasonable suspicion that the accused person did what he is alleged to have done,” he said.
“In this case, the accused person drove the complainant to ZMDC in his vehicle and at some stage he told her that her denominations would not be accepted before taking the money on the pretext he wanted to change into $100 notes.
“She gave him the money and the accused has to explain what he did with the money.”
Mr Reza then unsuccessfully applied to have the matter remanded to yesterday (Tuesday) to allow the investigating officer to bring the warned-and-cautioned statement. The magistrate ruled in favour of the defence.
“There is no evidence that the accused signed a warned-and-cautioned statement, therefore, placement on remand is refused,” he said.