By Lovemore Kadzura
A Rusape man, who masqueraded as a lawyer and debt collector and duped an unsuspecting client of his money, has been jailed. Bartholomew Mataga (62) of 1093 Mabvazuva, who was represented by Mr Tendai Bvuma of Bvuma and Associates, pleaded guilty when he appeared before Rusape magistrate Ms Patience Ururu Madondo.
He was sentenced to 12 months in prison. Mataga, who is also a messenger of court for Chief Makoni, is among the growing number of paralegals in Rusape, who are doing work that is meant for professional lawyers and shortchanging people in the process.
Prosecutor Mr Gift Mutigwa told the court that Mataga duped Herbert Kutadza of $180 after he misrepresented that he could assist him in a civil litigation case against Emma Mwaramwidze. The court heard that on October 28, 2016, Mataga met Kutadza, who was filing a civil suit against Mwaramwidze at Rusape Magistrate Court.
Posing as both a debt collector and lawyer, Mataga allegedly took the complainant to his office opposite Rusape Town Council, where they discussed how Kutadza could make payments for the services. Kutadza agreed to pay a $10 processing fee for every paper.
When he gave Mataga the first $10, he was issued an invoice number 046, which was produced in court as exhibit. It is the State’s case that after two weeks, Kutadza then gave Mataga another $20 for processing more papers, which he said were required in court.
Sometime in March 2017, Mataga phoned Kutadza to say that the court had ruled in his favour and Emma Mwaramwidze was supposed to pay $3 000 plus costs. On June 12, 2017, Mataga phoned Kutadza asking for $150. Kutadza was prejudiced $180 as a result.