Four Zanu-PF youth members allegedly used President Mnangagwa’s name to extort a mine owner in Shangani of US$12 000, a court heard.
Blessed Mushando (27), Gostaff Gomo (37) Isaac Makore (37) and Tichaona Chinosengwa (35) are facing a charge of extortion after they duped Priscilla Ncube her mine in Shangani claiming the president had targeted it to turn around the economy as it had rich gold deposits.
Mushando, who was arrested in a joint operation by members of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) from Harare and Bulawayo, appeared separately from his crew and is set to receive his bail ruling tomorrow.
Mushando is represented by Nkosiyabo Sibanda of Tanaka Law Chambers.
Gomo, Makore and Chinosengwa all from Kwekwe appeared together, represented by Bosswell Chideme of Mavhunga and Associates.
The trio is set to make their bail application tomorrow.
Bulawayo magistrate Franklin Mkhawananzi remanded them in custody.
The investigating officer, David Phiri, opposed bail citing Mushando is likely to interfere with state witnesses.
Phiri told the court they had received a report that a man (whom he could not name in court) had approached one of the witnesses asking them not to cooperate with the police when they are questioned on the matter.
He described the nature of the offense as a serious one as it implicates the name of the head of state.
“The police also take into consideration the fact that arresting Mushando took frantic efforts. We carried out surveillance for several days at his house but to no avail. We only succeeded after getting a tip-off. It was then that we carried out a raid at dawn at his house,” said Phiri.
However, Mushando’s lawyer, argued the basis for opposing bail were unfounded.
Sibanda, during cross-examination, told the court if Mushando were to be convicted, his offense would carry an option of a fine hence dismissed it was a serious offense as alleged by the investigating officer.
Sibanda said Mushando had been arrested while police were still investigating the matter hence it would be unconstitutional to remand him in custody.
“My client was only arrested this weekend. This dismisses allegations that he interfered with state witnesses as he had no allegations laid against him then,” he said.
“Furthermore, the police made no follow up on allegations that a certain man approached the state witness on his behalf, it is all based on hearsay,” said Sibanda.
According to court records as presented by Mufaro Mageza, Gomo, Makore and Chinosengwa on March 5 this year drove a Zanu-PF (Zhombe) branded vehicle to Shangani, where they met Ncube at Tobo mining syndicate.
Mageza said the trio threatened Ncube, citing they were under instructions to tell her to vacate the mine, failure to which unspecified action would be taken against her.
Mushando, the court heard, went to the same mine on March 24 where he misrepresented himself to Ncube before telling her to pay $12 000 to secure the mine.
“Mushando, on that day extorted Ncube of USD$2 000. He told her the mine had been targeted by the President’s Office in turning around the economy, as it was rich in gold,” said Mageza.
“Mushando was allegedly given the money by one Dumisani Ndlovu on behalf of Ms Ncube. On 26 March he contacted Ncube, while he was in Harare telling her that she needed to pay the balance to conclude the deal. Ncube paid the US$10 000 with the hope that the mine would indeed be secured,” he said.
Mageza said Ncube later realised she had been duped and made a report to the police leading to the arrest of the quad.