By Freeman Razemba
More than 50 people in and around Harare have lost thousands of dollars to a car dealer who allegedly made them believe that he could facilitate the importation of vehicles from Japan and other countries.
Shaun Muteswa, who operates a company called Asia 2 Africa Auto Zimbabwe based at Number 9 Rhodesville Road, Eastlea, Harare, was yesterday picked up for questioning by detectives from the Vehicle Theft Squad (VTS) in connection with the case.
The Herald understands that the people paid him amounts ranging between $3 000 and $20 000 last year.
The vehicles have since not been delivered to them and it is believed that Muteswa had been giving them flimsy excuses, prompting them to team up and make a report to the police.
Most of the victims were yesterday afternoon at Harare Central and Southerton police stations making reports, police at these stations confirmed.
“We have been making efforts to recover our vehicles and money from him, but to no avail. Now all I want from him is to recover my money only and that is why I have decided to engage the police,” said one of the prospective buyers.
Although the details were sketchy, investigations carried out by The Herald revealed that more than 50 people were defrauded by Muteswa and his accomplices in these botched car deals after paying him cash in United States dollars.Most of them have been visiting his offices, but to no avail and it is believed that Muteswa and his accomplices could have converted the money into their personal use.
Efforts to get comment from Muteswa yesterday were fruitless as his mobile phone was unreachable.
However, on their official website, Asia 2 Africa Auto wrote: “Asia 2 Africa Auto Zimbabwe, is a wholly owned Zimbabwean company, which bridges the geographical gap between the supplier in Japan and the client in Zimbabwe.
“Our Modus operandi can be broken down into two main aspects, firstly the facilitation of importation of motor vehicles from Japan to Zimbabwe, and secondly the vigorous inspection by independent adjudicators of the said vehicles at Durban Port, in order to guarantee our client receives a quality product upon delivery. Asia 2 Africa Auto provides quality vehicles at reasonable price with Customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
They said that they had two methods of vehicle sales, mainly a six-month lay-bye plan and a once-off full payment plan.
“In the event that the customer opts for the six months lay-bye plan, the customer pays an initial non-refundable deposit of 25 percent of the CIF price, the vehicle is then purchased from our suppliers and stored in our warehouse in Japan, awaiting at least 70 percent payment before it can be shipped.
“In the event that the customer makes a once off full payment, it takes 10 working days for our suppliers to receive their payment upon, which shipping arrangements are then made.”