Byo businessman arrested for $39k maize, bean fraud

Bulawayo police have arrested a 32-year-old businessman, Michael Ndebele, for allegedly defrauding four clients of over US$39,000.

Ndebele is the director of Daily Harvest, a company with branches in Kelvin West and Belmont specialising in milling maize, soya beans, and other farm products.

Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube, confirmed the arrest.

“Police confirm the arrest of a fraudster, Michael Ndebele, a 32-year-old businessman and Director of Daily Harvest. The company operates two branches at 19318 Kelvin West, Bulawayo, and number 10 Swansea Road, Belmont, Bulawayo, specializing in milling maize, soya beans, and other farm products,” he said.

Between September 2023 and February 2024, Ndebele misrepresented himself to four complainants that his company buys maize bran and other raw materials in cash through advertisements on different media platforms.

“Attracted by Ndebele’s good terms of payment, the complainants supplied the accused with raw materials but were not paid their dues at the agreed time, leading to them making police reports,” said Inspector Ncube.

The first victim, a 25-year-old male from Neilleton Road, Braeside, Harare, delivered 7.2 tons of sugar beans to Ndebele’s workplace in Kelvin West, Bulawayo, but was not paid anything, suffering a prejudice of US$5,760.

The second victim, a 46-year-old female from Kamwala, Lusaka, Zambia, supplied 60 tonnes of maize bran to the accused company and was only paid US$6,350 instead of US$16,500. She supplied an additional 33.5 tonnes of maize bran and was only paid US$1,700 instead of US$8,727.20, suffering a loss of US$17,083.

Ndebele further ordered 30 tonnes of maize from the third victim, a 36-year-old male from Glenway, Harare, for an agreed price of US$7,200.

“Upon delivery, Ndebele only paid US$2,500, causing a prejudice of US$4,700.”

The fourth victim, a 25-year-old male from Helenview, Harare, delivered two tonnes of maize bran to Ndebele’s workplace. Instead of paying the full amount as agreed, Ndebele only paid US$7,000, causing a prejudice of US$11,870.

“Altogether, the complainants lost US$39,413, and nothing was recovered,” said Inspector Ncube.

He said police instituted investigations into the reported cases, and assistance rendered by relevant stakeholders and members of the public led to the arrest of Ndebele.

“Police are concerned with cases of fraud where innocent people are conned of their hard-earned cash. Members of the public are urged to do due diligence.”

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