Prominent radio and television personality Tichafa Matambanadzo, popularly known as Tich Mataz, whom the court and the police have claimed is at large, had a face-to-face interview with NewsDay Wednesday and said he was unaware the police were looking for him.
He recounted how he got “mixed up” with the characters with whom he stands accused of fraud – including top security chief, Air Commodore Kennedy Zimondi, but denied he had stolen anyone’s money.
But police insisted yesterday after the popular showbiz personality had left NewsDay that they were hunting for Matambanadzo in connection with fraud.
On Tuesday police sources said detectives had raided Matambanadzo’s residence but had failed to locate him.
“I can confirm that he is wanted and we are looking for him. Anyone who knows his
whereabouts should phone the Serious Frauds Section on 753543-46 and speak to Detective Assistant Inspector Masara,” said Detective Inspector Augustine Zimbili, the Criminal Investigation Department spokesperson.
Matambanadzo had, however, told NewsDay hours earlier that he was not running away from anything because as far as he was concerned, he had committed no crime.
“I have not run away and, in fact, I am not aware the police are looking for me,” Matambanadzo said.
“As a law-abiding citizen, I will fully cooperate with the police on the allegations.”
Matambanadzo professed ignorance of the fraud case in which he is implicated together with Air Commodore Zimondi.
Zimondi is facing two charges of fraud and another of conspiracy to unlawfully deal in precious stones. Mataz is implicated in one of the fraud charges involving $5 000.
Matambanadzo said he knew Zimondi and the other people involved in the case, Edith Chinyangare (his co-accused) and Jimmy Makurumbandi (the complainant), “very well” and also that money had been exchanged between the parties, but denied receiving any money or being part of any of their deals.
“I know Zimondi very well and I also know Edith and Jimmy very well. We have been friends for a long time and the two (Jimmy and Edith) were having an affair. They started having problems about seven weeks ago and tried to drag me into the issue, but I refused because I did not want to be involved in things involving lovers,” he said.
“I don’t know how they gave each other money, and perhaps there is a possibility that Edith took money from Jimmy and said she gave it to me, but I have never had any business transaction with Jimmy. I have seen them exchanging money on a number of occasions, but I have never dealt with them.”
Zimondi, who is also the director-general of military sports in the Ministry of Defence, is alleged to have connived with Matambanadzo and Chinyangare to swindle Makurumbandi of $5 000 in March this year in a deal involving a trip to Geneva.
Matambanadzo yesterday said at one time the Geneva trip was discussed in his presence but said he was not part of the deal. He said Chinyangare and the complainant had an affair which had gone sour and were now dragging his name into the mud.
Asked how he was implicated if he had never had any business dealings with Makurumbandi, he said: “My name is in the court papers because the Geneva trip was spoken about in my presence, at one time. We have talked about so many business issues because everyone is always looking for opportunities, but I was never part of that deal.”
Matambanadzo said he would have found it easy to pay $5 000 if he had borrowed money from the complainant and would never have been on the run because “of such a small amount as $5 000”.
Meanwhile, provincial magistrate Shane Kubonera yesterday granted Zimondi
$1 500 bail on his three cases.
He also ordered the air force chief to surrender title deeds to his property as part of the bail conditions. Zimondi was further ordered to surrender his passport, to reside at the given address and to report twice at CID Serious Frauds while his co-accused persons were granted $200 and $300 bail each on the other two cases.
“It is the court’s duty to avoid pre-trial incarcerations of suspects,” the magistrate noted while granting bail.
“The accused’s liberty is at stake and this court’s finding is that they are proper candidates for bail.”