BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
HIGH Court Judges of Appeal, Justices Happius Zhou and Benjamin Chikowero have convicted suspects who had been acquitted of fraud charges by a lower court.
This was after the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) filed an appeal challenging the acquittal of a local company, Christian Community Life Assurance and its directors who faced fraud charges.
The company was jointly charged with its directors, Washington Frera, Vincent Tom Baris and Norman Ngoshi, but they were acquitted by regional magistrate Grace Takundwa.
It is alleged that between May 9, 2017 and March 2018 in Harare central business district, the respondents forged the signatures of one Yan Yu and the late Zhaosheng Wu with the intention of defrauding them.
In terms of that forged agreement, Frera had swapped a gold mining claim in Bindura with Yu and Wu’s 100% shares in Shomet Industrial Holdings (Pvt) Limited.
In the second count, the four misrepresented to the Registrar of Companies that Yu and Wu had resigned as directors of Shomet when in fact the two had not.
They then appointed themselves as directors of Shomet. This resulted in a prejudice of 25 hectares of land in Waterfalls, Harare, valued at US$4,2 million.
The State alleged that in March 2018, the four misrepresented to Fortburry (Pvt) Limited represented by Cornileus Muzvongi that they were looking for a partner to develop the land.
At that time, Yu, Wu and one Jethro Mazenge, Tarisai Hapanyengwi and Chipo Mupambiri were the directors of that land.
However, the magistrates court ruled that Yu’s evidence was not credible.
But appealing the ruling, the Prosecutor-General said the lower court misdirected itself.
“The lower court failed to analyse the evidence in its totality. If the sale agreement was not fake, there would have been no reason why Yu was still in possession of the title deed more than a year later
“The verdict of not guilty and acquitted in all three counts and in respect of all the four respondents be and is set aside and substituted with guilty as charged,” the judges ruled.
The trio now awaits sentencing.