CLOSE to 200 resettled farmers thronged the Harare Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday where a 32-year-old woman Angela Chipiti appeared in court charged with allegedly defrauding them of over 190 tonnes of maize worth $90 720.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Magistrate Georgina Ndava eventually issued an order barring Chipiti from further collecting maize from the farmers as it emerged more complainants were yet to file police reports.
One farmer, Martin Makanyange, who represented most of the farmers, blamed Nyagori Secondary School headmistress Catherine Mazvanhi in Mhondoro for enticing them to enter into a contract with Chipiti.
“Some parents had complained of high school fees and it was Mazvanhi who suggested that we sell our maize to Chipiti on credit and that after getting paid we would raise money for the school fees, but little did we know we would end up in this position,” Makanyange said.
Chipiti, who stays at Willowvale Flats in Harare, was not asked to plead when she appeared before Ndava charged with fraud and was remanded out of custody to January 14 for trial on $300 bail.
Most of the defrauded farmers attended court after they were subpoenaed by the State, but the trial was deferred.
Among the complainants who attended court were the old and frail who could hardly stand and some of them were walking with the aid of sticks.
The State alleges that sometime between July and August this year, Chipiti visited Chief Chivero resettlement area in Mhondoro in search of maize.
The court heard she met over 32 farmers and negotiated to buy maize from them on credit after offering a high price compared to the one offered by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
It is alleged she enticed them to release their maize to her at $360 per tonne as compared to $290 per tonne offered by the GMB.
After securing the maize, Chipiti promised to pay the farmers in two weeks’ time, but she sold the maize and allegedly converted the cash to her own use, prompting the farmers to report the matter leading to her arrest.
This story was meant to have been published in yesterday’s issue as was indicated on the front page of the paper, but failed to appear due to some technical error. We wish to apologise to readers for the inconvenience caused.