Police in Bulawayo have launched a manhunt for an alleged fraudster who duped a local businessman of US$98 000 in a botched maize deal.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said the man, Never Sithole (34), misrepresented himself as a farmer who had a large quantity of maize before fleeing with the money.
The businessman, whose name was not supplied, owns a maize milling company in Bulawayo.
Insp Ncube said Sithole told the businessman that he could supply 1632 kilograms of maize from South Africa priced at US$225 000 but he needed half the amount in order to be able to arrange for transportation logistics.
“Sithole also told the businessman that he had a business partner in South Africa, whom he only introduced as Mr Mairos. He said Mairos and him owned a company called Lumar General Trading in South Africa and that would deal with the logistics of sending the maize through from South Africa to Zimbabwe.”
Inspector Ncube said Sithole and his alleged bogus business partner then asked the businessman to give them half of the total amount so that the maize could be sent through.
“The businessman tasked his business partners based in South Africa to meet up with Mairos. The partners called him back and told him that they had met him. He (businessman’s partner) said they had met him and agreed to buy 1632kg of maize for US$225 000,” he said.
“Mairas then told the businessman that for them to send the maize through, he would have to give half the amount of money to Sithole in cash. The businessman then called Sithole on August 19 and gave him US$50 000. The following day he gave him US$8000,” Insp Ncube said.
“He then called his business partner in South Africa to make a bank payment of ZAR175 000 into an NFB account. On August 27, the businessman made another payment of US$40 000 to Sithole.”
Insp Ncube said after the payments, the businessman made arrangements for haulage trucks to ferry his maize but at that point Sithole and Mairos were nolonger reachable on their phones.