National Arts Gallery deputy chairperson Rosetta Elizabeth Peters was yesterday slapped with a seven-year jail term after being convicted alongside her co-directors in a company called Paroan Trucking (Pvt) Limited, for swindling a local farmer of $1,5 million.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Peters was on Friday last week convicted of the offence together with Edmund Christopher Peters (61), and Hebron Thomas Peters.
However, the trio will serve an effective three-year jail term each after regional magistrate Elijah Makomo suspended three years on condition of restitution and a year on condition of good behaviour.
They were given up to March 31 next year to pay the restitution.
In passing the sentence, Makomo said the public would ridicule the court if the convicts were to be fined for the offence.
“The offence involves pre-planning and criminal acquisition of title deeds knowing that the owner of the property is very old and has since relocated to the United Kingdom. You intentionally entered into an agreement with the complainant and successfully borrowed $1,56 million, no amount of fine is required to deter others from doing the same, otherwise the public will ridicule the courts,” Makomo said.
The court heard sometime in December 2009, the trio approached Mohammed Yaqub Ibrahim and requested for a loan to finance their struggling company, Paroan Trucking (Private) Limited, which was in the business of selling fuel.
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At the material time, the trio was renting a service station in Ardbennie, Harare, which belonged to Emma Rita Frost.
Ibrahim then promised to finance the trio to the tune of $1,5 million after the borrowers pledged collateral in the form of immovable property.
The owner of the property, Frost, had since left Zimbabwe permanently to stay in the UK and she left her property in the custody of Gollop and Blank Legal Practitioners through Knight Frank Property Management.
During the commission of the offence, the trio was paying monthly rentals for the property to Knight Frank.
However, they later hatched a plan to deceive Ibrahim in order to get the loan and misrepresented to him that they owned the premises and it was registered under Paroan Trucking Company.
On February 24, 2010 and in pursuant of their plan, the trio raised some documents and an affidavit purporting they were from Frost who had lost the title deeds to her property which they submitted to the Registrar of Deeds Office where they obtained duplicate title deeds.
On March 5, 2010, the trio fraudulently transferred title deeds of the property from Emma Frost to Paroan Trucking and they surrendered the title deeds to Ibrahim.
After receiving the title deeds, Ibrahim transferred $1,5 million into Paroan Trucking’s bank account, but the trio then failed to repay the loan as agreed. Sometime in October 2012, Ibrahim approached the High Court after the trio refused to vacate the property and investigations later revealed they did not own the said property.
Molly Mtamangira appeared for the State.