Wynne Zanamwe, Midlands Reporter
TWO leaders of a Gweru housing cooperative who duped 32 home-seekers of over $34 000 have each been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
Jaison Sibanda (49) of Ascot Infill who is the chairman of Zvidozvevanhu Housing Co-operative and Bigboy Khumalo (55) of Mkoba 7 who is the treasurer pleaded guilty to 32 counts of theft when they appeared before Gweru Magistrate Mr Musaiona Shotgame.
The two were each sentenced to seven years imprisonment, but a year was suspended from each of their sentences on condition that they do not commit a similar offence in the next five years.
Four years were also suspended from each of them on condition that they restitute the complainants $34 264.
In passing the sentence, the magistrate said a custodial sentence was justified considering the pair’s actions.
“The two accused persons stole from residents who were homeless and trusting, only to be duped of their money. They are not remorseful with their actions and they did not even offer to restitute the complainants their money.
“A fine or community service will not give justice to the matter,” said the magistrate.
Prosecuting, Ernest Muzembi said in September 2010, Sibanda and Khumalo, together with their accomplice Maxwell Sibanda who is still at large formed a housing co-operative named Zvidozvevanhu Housing Co-operative in Gweru.
“The co-operative was to assist its members in obtaining residential stands from the Zimbabwe Housing Project. The accused persons lured the unsuspecting clients by advertising leading to 32 members joining.
“The terms and conditions of the co-operative was that the members would pay their contributions to the co-operative and it would then transfer the money into Zimbabwe Housing Project’s account,’ said Mr Muzembi.
He said the complainants made payments to Sibanda and Khumalo from September 2010 to October 2016.
The court heard that instead of transferring the money into the Zimbabwe Housing Project bank account, the accused persons converted it to their own use.
The matter came to light on October 12 last year when the complainants went to Zimbabwe Housing Project to be allocated stands. They were advised that their payments were not up to date.
A report was made at Gweru Central Police Station leading to the arrest of the accused, said Mr Muzembi and $34 264 that was stolen was not recovered.