There was a stand-off at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ court, as the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) stalled the commencement of a US$700 000 fraud case which was supposed to kick off, Thursday.
The matter was initially being handled by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) before ZACC took over the case.
Venerada Munyoro, State representative announced in court that they intended to commit the matter to the Bulawayo High Court at a time when the trial for the matter was meant to commence.
The case involves Been There Restaurant (Pvt) Ltd managing director, Delny Deanna Ashley Davies, who allegedly defrauded Prince Abraham, managing director of Nedlac Automation- a company with branches in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Allegations against Davies are that she told Abraham she had free funds in South Africa which Abraham would use to do his South African transactions and in return, he should transfer $700 000 into her Zimbabwean account.
The court heard Davies allegedly converted the funds to her own use as she used the money to settle a loan she was owing to Mohammed Zakariya Patel.
Davies’ lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, would not take the State’s abrupt decision to commit the matter to the High Court.
Advocate Mpofu argued that the State had confirmed to commence the trial Thursday and had confirmed that all was in order.
He stated that the court in which the matter was being heard did have the jurisdiction to deal with it hence there was no need to commit to a higher court.
“Your Worship, we agreed with the State that we would commence trial today (Thursday). I had to travel all the way from Harare in anticipation to deal with the trial. What the State is doing right now can be termed as abuse of court proceedings. Once the Prosecutor General acknowledges that they have the authority to prosecute a matter we expect the trial to kick off. The State is not giving a satisfactory reason as to why they do not want the matter to be tried here,” said Advocate Mpofu.
“Considering the facts of the matter we made our position very clear that we intended to make an application of exception of these charges. The reason for State to then wake up in the morning and say they want to commit is not acceptable. If they were not ready, they should have said so in time. What is it exactly that makes not tell this honourable court of the real reason why they do not want to commence the trial? Such delays are only violating the rights of the accused person.”
For the State, Munyoro, told the court that since Davies’ lawyers had filed a notice of intention to apply for an exception, committing to the High Court would curtail the proceedings.
“Your Worship, if the matter is to be tried at the High Court then it would save time. If there are to be applications to be made there then the same court would have to deal with them or have them taken to the Supreme court which in turn would serve time. The difference in the matter is almost the same,” said Munyoro.
Bulawayo Provincial Magistrate Tinashe Tashaya postponed the matter to February 26 to deliver his ruling on the matter as to whether the matter will be committed to the High Court or be dealt with in the Provincial court.
The magistrate had advised the State and the defence counsel to deal with the matter but they had failed to reach a consensus.
The court, through Munyoro, heard that Davies prejudiced Abraham a total of US$664 200-00 and only US$7 432-00 was recovered.
Munyoro said Abraham then told Davies that his company had two major invoices which had to be settled totalling about ZAR3 500 000-00.
“Sometime in November 2018, Abraham instructed Davies to pay ZAR3 070 000-00 to Maggotteax South Africa for goods bought and delivered to PPC Bulawayo and to pay ZAR 430 000-00 to Toyota Nelspruit for Nedlac Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd company vehicle,” said Munyoro.
“On November 26, 2018, Davies then instructed Abraham to deposit USD $700 000-00 into FMC Finance Company Ecobank account number 00147600849601. Abraham thus made two internal transfers of US$200 000-00 and US$500 000-00 into the stated account through Interbank banking using his Ecobank account number 005103760992101.”
She said investigations established that when the money was transferred into FMC Financial Services Ecobank Account, US$72 000.00 financed an overdraft for FMC Financial Services and US$628 000.00 was transferred to a Steward Bank account, on instructions from Patel.
“On 29 November 2018, a total of ZAR 450 000-00 was paid to Nedlac Automation South Africa FNB account number 62716180807 by Davies and she converted a balance of ZAR3 050 000-00 to her own use. She later made another deposit of ZAR110 000-00 into Nedlac Automation FNB account,” said Munyoro.