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Court criminal

Developer defrauds Chiredzi councils of 1 700 stands

A LAND developing company and its directors have appeared in court for allegedly defrauding the Chiredzi Rural District Council and Chiredzi Town Council of 1 700 stands.

Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje remanded Full Life Open Arms Africa (Private) Limited and its directors Andrew Chigudu and Godknows Nelson Mandaya to August 14 for routine remand pending investigations.

They were granted US$300 bail each.

Prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti alleged that sometime in 2015, the Lands, Agriculture, Water and Fisheries ministry offered Chiredzi Town Council 750 hectares of the remainder of Buffalo Range to plan and develop the land to benefit the local community.

He said a joint committee was established by Chiredzi Town and the rural district council since the land was under the latter.

The committee’s role was to spearhead the formation of a joint venture for the two local boards and look for a suitable developer to develop the 750 hectares to expected standards.

Mutsokoti further alleged that on April 16, 2014, the local boards entered into a land development agreement with the suspects for the purpose of expansion, growth and development of the two local authorities.

The company was allegedly tasked to carry out a feasibility study for the project, do all town planning tasks including subdivision of the land until a permit is available and identification of possible routes for road opening and excavation up to hard surface.

However, in July 2022, the developers applied for a US$1,2 million loan from a local bank with the intention to allegedly defraud the two councils.

The loan was reportedly applied to ostensibly develop the project, but the developers allegedly misrepresented that the loan was guaranteed by 1 700 residential stands.

The developers allegedly produced the feasibility studies and report, subdivision layout and issuance permit, cadastral survey and engineering designs.

The land developers allegedly converted the loan to their personal use and sold the 1 700 residential stands.

The court heard that investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission established that when they sold the residential stands, the land had not been serviced.

Further investigations indicated that the two local authorities were not aware of the actual amount borrowed since no loan agreement have been availed to the landowner by the accused person to this date.

The State further alleged that the developers misrepresented facts to the two local authorities when they requested collateral security on the 1 700 residential stands to acquire the loan.

Source | NewsDay


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