BY ANDREW KUNAMBURA
PROMINENT Harare businessmen Nyasha Watyoka and Gilbert Muponda have written a letter of complaint to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) over the conduct of officers investigating a couple accused of grabbing their prime commercial property during their lengthy stay out of the country, and using it as collateral to secure a US$1 million loan with the now-defunct Kindgom Bank.
The loan was never repaid.
In a letter dated March 16, 2021, addressed to officer commanding Harare province, Watyoka and Muponda are accusing district Assistant Inspector Cain Muchingami of the ZRP Commercial Crimes Unit of allegedly fraternising John Ronald Coumbis and his ex-wife Phillipa Anne Coumbis, who illegally partitioned their property in the prime commercial area of Belgravia in Harare.
The couple’s son, Anthony Coumbis, and one George Nyashanu are also being jointly accused.
In the letter, Watyoka and Muponda, who are long-term business partners, alleged that Muchingami and his team, instead of carrying out impartial investigations, ended up facilitating the property takeover.
The pair also alleged that the Coumbises verbally claimed to have bought the property despite the fact that Watyoka and Muponda are still registered as its owners and they never sold the building.
According to documents from the Registrar of Companies, Watyoka and Muponda are co-directors in The Right Investments (Pvt) Ltd under which the property is registered.
“We have running cases in the courts regarding the fraudulent use of a building, Belgravia House, owned by this company, as collateral by one John Ronald Coumbis, George Nyashanu, Phillipa Ann Coumbis (John Coumbis’ ex-wife) and Anthony Coumbis. The fact of the matter is that we bought The Right Investments (Pvt) Ltd in 2003. We were mostly based out of the country between 2004 and 2014. When we came back, we set (out) to regularise properties that we owned and that included updating leases with tenants,” the letter read.
They further stated that in the case of Belgravia House, they managed to update the lease with Mica Hardware, who occupied part of the building with no problem.
But challenges arose when Anthony, who occupied the other part of the building, refused to comply, claiming that his company, Oxcom Trading, had been given a 99-year lease for a section of the building by someone else.
“The matter ended up in court HC922/20, Application for Declarator. This case has progressed to the Supreme Court SC547/20 and is currently awaiting set down. Anthony Coumbis presented a fake CR14 in HC922/20 for The Right Investments (Pvt) Ltd, which showed his father, John Ronald Coumbis, and George Nyashanu, chief executive officer of Econet Insurance, as the directors of the company,” part of the letter read.
They then resolved that Muponda should file a police report highlighting the fraudulent CR14 document (CR2762/11/19 CD).
“Mr Nyashanu, who had been cited by the Coumbis as one of the directors, distanced himself from the CR14 and made an affidavit to the High Court to the effect that his name had been used without his knowledge. This resulted in Anthony Coumbis being placed on remand. Unfortunately, we have not been able to confirm what became of this case,” the letter further read.
Watyoka, on his part, alleges in the letter of complaint that he was surprised when Philippa reported him to the police for filing a fake report in a soapy-styled table-turning tale, with the same Muchingami as the investigator.
He said he confronted Muchingami over the matter, who indicated that he was only acting on instruction from unnamed “big people”.
Officer commanding police in Harare, Newbert Saunyama, was yet to respond to the letter.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he would check with Harare province and update NewsDay about the case, but had not done so by the time of going to print last night.
- Follow Andrew on Twitter @akunambura