The $22 million Pick n Pay Supermarket fraud trial got underway in the capital with all three suspects pleading not guilty.
Tonderai Chagweda, Tatenda Jombe and Moses Banda appeared before Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko.
The court heard that the trio, allegedly working in connivance with Ronald Mudzingwa, hatched a plan to defraud the complainant.
They allegedly created an e-mail address [email protected]/supermarkets.com and purported as if they were TM Pick n Pay’s finance manager Raymond Matsetswa and Gamuchirai Nyamuzinga, the Chief Finance Officer. It is further alleged that the trio misrepresented themselves as Matsetswa and Nyamuzinga by sending instruction forms, via e-mail, to Steward Bank with forged signatures of Matsetswa and Nyamuzinga. The bank was instructed to process and debit TM Pick n Pay’ account in four different transactions amounting to $22 million.
The complainant authorised and processed the transaction.
The offence came to light on March 3 when TM Pick n Pay head office disputed some of the transactions on their account. It is alleged that preliminary investigations carried out by the complainant revealed that the e-mail used to send the instruction forms was different from the one the TM Pick n Pay supermarket’s finance manager uses.
In denying the allegations, Chagweda told the court that he didn’t make any misrepresentation to Pick and Pay Supermarket and denied participating in the authorship of any email account.
He also denied taking part in the subsequent communications purporting to be an employee of TM Supermarkets, in the manner alleged, or at all.
He stated that he was a middleman, or broker, who would source products for various clients and payments would be made to him directly, without his involvement, because the source of the funds were none of his business.
If the funds were ill-gotten, it was for the client to pay not him.
He told the court that all he got was proof of payment, after the payments had already been done and, in this case, he sourced and obtained goods for a client from Leechiz Investments and Madzara Investments and has no knowledge of Simrac Investments and Maloka Construction. He told the court that he knew Jombe, who approached him and introduced him to his client, from whom he was sourcing products.
He said he never dealt with Banda.
Banda denied ever colluding or acting in cahoots with the co-accused persons, or any other persons, to defraud the complainant. He told the court he will categorically deny ever knowing Wellington Mudzingwa.
He also deny ever communicating with any employee of TM Pick ‘n’ Pay in the manner alleged at all and denied ever receiving the said money or part of it.
He told the court he was surprised to read in The Herald newspaper of 13 March, 2021, about his name being mentioned as the perpetrator of this offence.
He denied being the owner of the said bank accounts or having any control of them and he doesn’t even know the owners of the said companies.
Tapiwanashe Zvidzai appeared for the State.