ZBC television personality Walter Mupfanochiya has been arrested for allegedly swindling workmates, chief correspondent Rueben Barwe and manager online, news and current affairs Moses Charedzera of $33 000 in a botched business deal.
But the nature of the business Mupfanochiya, a news reader, intended to embark on was not revealed in court papers when he appeared before Harare Magistrate Anita Tshuma charged with fraud or alternatively two counts of theft of trust property. He was not asked to plead and was remanded out of custody to March 19 on $500 bail.
As part of his bail conditions, Mupfanochiya was ordered to surrender his passport, to reside at the address he supplied to police, to report twice every Friday at CID Serious Frauds and not to interfere with witnesses.
Prosecutor David Magwegwe said allegations against him were that on December 18 2010, he approached Charedzera and the two had a business discussion where Mupfanochiya pleaded with Charedzera to invest into the said business project.
It is alleged the news anchor managed to convince Charedzera to inject $3 000 into the business. The court heard Mupfanochiya pleaded with Charedzera for more cash injection and on December 26 of the same year, Charedzera made a bank transfer of $10 000 into Mupfanochiyas CBZ account held at Borrowdale branch.
It is alleged Mupfanochiya received the money and promised to pay at the beginning of January last year, but reneged on his pledge.
Charedzera is said to have made several efforts to recover his money, but later realised he had been duped after receiving a refund of only $4 000.
As if that was not enough, in November last year Mupfanochiya is alleged to have used the same modus operandi after approaching Barwe, the State broadcasters chief correspondent.
Mupfanochiya allegedly lured Barwe to invest into his company and requested for $20 000. It is alleged on December 7 last year, Barwe transferred $20 000 into Mupfanochiyas NMB account after he had pleaded with him to inject the cash into the business.
After Mupfanochiya received the cash, the alleged business deal did not materialise prompting Barwe to demand his money back.
Mupfanochiya allegedly promised to pay back Barwe by the beginning of January this year, which he failed to do.
Barwe is said to have made frantic efforts to recover his money, but Mupfanochiya allegedly showed no capacity to refund him despite signing an acknowledgement of debt pledging to settle the debt by end of last month.
His failure to pay back prompted Barwe to report the matter to the police on Friday last week, leading to Mupfanochiyas arrest.