New Zimbabwe.com

Ex-VP Mphoko’s son brought to court in leg irons, to spend Christmas in jail

By Bulawayo Correspondent

FRAUD accused Siqokoqela Mphoko, son to former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, on Thursday appeared before a Bulawayo regional magistrate in leg irons and was remanded in custody to 21 January next year.

He is facing up to 170 counts of fraud and theft for allegedly looting a total $80 000 worth of cash and goods from some Choppies Supermarkets.

Mphoko had his $200 bail revoked last week for allegedly interfering with state witnesses in violation of his bail conditions.

A subdued Mphoko appeared before regional magistrate, Trynos Utavashe clad in a khaki prison garb and in legs irons.

The former VP’s son, who was used to lavish and comfortable life outside prison, will now spend Christmas and New Year holidays behind bars unless his application opposing the revocation of his bail pending trial succeeds.

His lawyer, Professor Welshman Ncube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers on Tuesday this week filed an appeal at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the revocation of bail pending trial. He cited the state as Respondent. The application is still pending hearing.

Mphoko, who is shareholder and non-executive director within the supermarket chain, is accused of abusing his powers to “loot” cash realised from sales at different supermarkets and replacing it with bank transfers.

Between July last year and June this year, Mphoko allegedly went to various Choppies supermarkets to demand varying amounts of cash, goods and services from employees without approval from the board.

He is accused of collecting cash, groceries and some building material and later ordering the chain store’s finance department to deduct the money from his salary.

Although he was not supposed to be directly involved in the day-to-day operations of Choppies, Mphoko allegedly masqueraded as the owner of the company in Zimbabwe and even allegedly threatened to either dismiss or deport employees of Indian origin for defying his orders.

Former VP Mphoko and his son on one hand are battling for control of the chain store after partners within the Botswana registered retail giant have insisted the family owned just seven percent shares in the company while the Mphokos claim they own the majority stake with 51% of the business.

The wrangle has spilled into the courts.