Court urged to put businessmen to their defence for $10m fraud

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The Prosecutor-General’s Office has urged a Chinhoyi magistrate to put two businessmen accused of $10 million fraud in a mine wrangle to their defence.

BY CHARLES LAITON

In an application before Chinhoyi regional magistrate Never Katiyo, Herald Matura, a representative of the PG’s Office, said Chinese national Zhou Haixi and a Zimbabwean, Tafirenyika Kambarami, were guilty of defrauding Chen Shaoliang and his daughter Chen Xiandong.

“Accused persons unlawfully made representations to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) intending to defraud complainants and thus prejudiced them,” Matura said.

“ZIA acted on the documentation which they were given by accused persons, which documents the complainants in casu (in this case) found to be false and led them to be prejudiced.

“It is also not in doubt that second accused person (Kambarami) acting in connivance with first accused (Haixi) changed the directorship of the company.

“Defence counsels say the complainants were resigned by Charles Fredrick Jones and at the same time, not removing themselves from the crux of the matter.”

Matura said Haixi’s lawyer, Charles Chinyama, accused the State of not informing the court that Jones was a suspect witness, making it “a fatal irregularity” as Jones was the State’s only witness.

Matura said the State was not aware of evidence that Jones would lead in court.

“The prosecutor can only inform the court if it is ‘in his opinion’ that the witness is an accomplice witness,” he said.

“To go further and ascertain what evidence he would lead would amount to coaching a witness, is in itself a fatal irregularity.”

However, in their applications, Haixi and Kambarami said the fact that Jones disowned his statement to police alleging he signed it under duress should be noted.

“That notwithstanding, the suspect witness sought to disown his own signature on the basis of duress but when asked under cross-examination whether he was standing by his statement his answer was simply, ‘Yes because I was under duress’,” Chinyama said.

Chinyama said Jones acknowledged that police did not clear the aspect of his signature on an affidavit allegedly deposed by him before a commissioner of oaths.

“The particulars in the statement which he sought to disown were his and he also signed the statement at the time police, according to him, had indicated he was no longer a suspect,” he said.

Katiyo is expected to deliver judgment on Wednesday.