Ex-Army Boss In Trouble Over Work Permits Extortion

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By Mary Taruvinga

FORMER Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) colonel, Atwell Seremani was Wednesday dragged to court charged with extortion after he allegedly defrauded South African investor cash in a work permit deal.

Seremani is jointly charged with Nation Machaya and the two appeared before Harare Magistrate Dennis Mangosi who remanded them in custody awaiting bail ruling Thursday.

It is the state’s case that sometime in 2020, the complainant was tasked to apply for work permits by the directors of a foreign-owned company at the Department of Immigration for foreign employees.

“The complainant allegedly applied for the permits at the immigration offices but made several follow-ups until they were told that the file was missing,” prosecutors told the court.

The complainant then received a phone call from Seremani who told him he was responsible for processing the work permits and should come through him if he wanted to acquire the papers.

It is alleged Seremani invited the complainant to his home and told him that he should pay US$4 000 to process the work permits.

Seremani allegedly told the complainant to pay US$2 500 upfront and the balance on collection of the work permits.

The complainant allegedly paid US$2 500 upfront, but later realised he was being extorted after suspecting Seremani could have been responsible for the disappearance of the files at the immigration offices.

According to the state on May 3, 2021, Seremani phoned the complainant and told him that the work permits were ready and that he should bring US$1 800 since he has taken long to collect them.

The complainant allegedly told his superiors who advised him to report the police. On May 4, Seremani allegedly phoned the complainant directing him to his residence and to bring cash, and collect the work permits.

On that same day, a team of police officers set a trap, and upon arrival at Seremani’s residence, he told the complainant he was not at home.

After a while, Machaya came out and told the complainant that he had been sent by Seremani to collect the money and hand over the permits.

The complainant handed over the trap money in the presence of police officers.

Machaya was subsequently arrested by the police detectives who were in the vehicle disguised as the company employees. Seremani was arrested later upon arrival at his home.