A prominent Bulawayo pastor, Elder Sam Mushonga, was on Tuesday sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding two people in a house deal.
Mushonga (60), of Nketa 9 of Elder Sam Christian Care Trust housed at 11 Hunicourt Building pleaded not guilty to four counts of fraud as defined by section 136 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, but was convicted on two counts by Bulawayo magistrate Singandu Jele.
Twelve months of his sentence were conditionally suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
However, Mushonga immediately made an application for bail pending appeal through his lawyer, Solomon Mguni of Khumalo and Company Legal Practitioners.
The state represented by Jerry Mutsindikwa did not oppose the application.
Jele granted Mushonga $100 bail accompanied by the conditions that he reports to Bulawayo Central Police Station on Mondays and Fridays and resides at his given address until the matter is finalised.
Charges against Mushonga are that on December 7, 2006, one Joseph Sikhosana lost a house through a High Court order case number HC1927/06 to Godfrey Katapa in Nkulumane suburb.
However, Mushonga and Sikhosana hatched a plan to sell the house to unsuspecting people.
They placed an advert in the press selling the house.
One of the complainants, Martin Ncube, responded to the advert and went to meet Mushonga at his offices and was advised that the house was being sold for R34 000 or the equivalent in Zimbabwe dollars.
Ncube offered to pay the amount in rand since he worked in South Africa and the money was paid to Mushonga in instalments until April 2007.
However Ncube discovered he had been cheated after paying the whole amount.
On the second count, the complainant, Caroline Maseko, a teacher at Mabhukudwana Primary School in Nkulumane approached Mushonga intending to buy the same house.
She was advised that the house was going for Z$45 million and she paid a deposit of Z$42 million.
Maseko paid the remainder in three weeks.
However, the matter came to light when she demanded to have the house changed into her name.
Mushonga started to be evasive and Maseko went to Nkulumane housing office, where she was advised that she had been cheated. She reported the matter to the police.
On two other counts on which he was acquitted Mushonga allegedly duped two other people of a combined value of Z$48 million in deals involving the same house.