By Fungai Lupande
A Bindura man, who swindled a Singaporean investor Ramason Bupendra of mining machinery worth US$500 000, has been sentenced to an effective seven years in prison.
Fradreck Utsiwegota (38) pleaded not guilty to theft of trust property charges. However, he was convicted after a full trial.
Provincial magistrate Mr Tinashe Ndokera sentenced Utsiwegota to 10 years in prison before suspending three years on condition that in the next five years he does not commit a similar offence.
The court heard that on July 5, 2012 Utsiwegota and Bupendra registered Decade Mining (Pvt) Limited and both became directors.
Bupendra was the sole financier in the company and 51 percent shares were awarded to Utsiwegota to comply with the Indigenisation law.
In July 2013, Bupendra left the country for Singapore and left Utsiwegota in charge of the company’s assets and day-to-day running of the business.
Utsiwegota advised him against coming back saying the political situation was not suitable for foreigners.
He was entrusted with two by three stamp mills each valued at US$36 000, one five stamp mill valued at US$45 000, one 120kva generator valued at US$25 000 and a Toyota Hilux single cab valued at US$35 000.
Among the property was a Mazda 3 valued at US$9 000, two ABJ concentrators valued at US$7 000, one Foton (7 tonne) truck valued at US$58 000, eight electric motors each valued at US$2 500 and an amalgam barrel valued at US$6 000.
Also, three compressors each valued at US$4 000, five water pumps each valued at US$2 000, one motorbike valued at US$3 500 and one dumper trailer valued at US$4 500.
Bupendra also claimed that 20 000 tonnes of gold dump valued at US$200 was among the property disposed of with neither a board resolution nor consent.
Bupendra returned to Zimbabwe in June 2019 without the knowledge of Utsiwegota and realised that the company had ceased operations and company assets were missing.
In his defence, Utsiwegota — a divorced father of five children — said the company operated without a board meeting since 2013 and he was acting in the best interests of the company when he committed the offence.