By Mary Taruvinga
DEPUTY Minister of Defence Victor Matemadanda has told a Harare court he was targeted and duped of his $600 by a Harare conman because he is an old man.
The war veterans’ association secretary general was giving a court testimony during the Monday trial of serial conman Tinashe Munhuweyi (36).
Munhuweyi, of Harare’s Mufakose suburb, is accused of masquerading as former Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Mafios Cheda to dupe Matemadanda, Bubi legislator Richard Moyo (Zanu PF) and several prominent people of various amounts of money.
He appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa and is still in custody.
Munhuweyi, who was not represented by any lawyer, however denied the allegations saying he never met or did any transaction with Matemadanda.
“The person who you talked to said he was Justice Cheda. I never talked to the accused or benefited from him personally. I only benefitted from his services as a minister,” he said.
Allegations are that on September 17 last year, Munhuweyi contacted Matemadanda while purporting to be Justice Cheda and misrepresented that he had two trucks which had run out of fuel at Chirundu Border Post.
He allegedly requested for $600 from the government official to both refuel the trucks and pay for other expenses.
Munhuweyi allegedly asked Matemadanda to transfer the money into a supplied Ecocash account and promised to repay the debt as soon as possible.
After the transaction went through, Munhuweyi allegedly became evasive.
Matemadanda later conducted his own investigations and discovered that he had been conned. He reported the matter at Harare Central Police Station.
The war veterans chief told court he is convinced Munhuweyi is the culprit although they never physically met before.
He said he was pained after losing his $600.
“I was told by the police that they used their intelligence to track the person who used the number to communicate with me. I have realised that accused targeted elderly people because the youths are now aware of such con artists…I’m glad about that.
“It’s sad they thrive on it. It’s just inhumane that such a young man can treat elders like this. I once saw someone almost fainting after being conned, now I understand how it feels.”
But Munhuweyi accused Matemadanda of bribing the police to arrest him.
He said the deputy minister even paid for fuel for the police.
Matemadanda said he was not corrupt.
“I don’t command the police, I don’t teach them how to investigate. I’m a government minister and can’t send the police to be corrupt,” he said.
Prosecutor Patience Chimusaru also alleged that using the same modus operandi, Munhuweyi contacted a Great Zimbabwe University professor Ben Siyakwazi and lied that he was Justice Cheda and currently working in Namibia.
Munhuweyi indicated that he was in South Africa and seeking medical attention. He further told Siyakwazi that he was facing some serious problems and requested the complainant to assist his son, Christian Cheda, whom he alleged was studying at Makerere University in Uganda.
He alleged that his son’s vehicle had been confiscated by a Harare motor mechanic for failure to pay for repairs.
The court heard Munhuweyi instructed Siyakwazi to transfer $400 into an Ecocash account registered in the name of Patience Muchenje.
He reportedly later claimed that his son had been involved in a road accident soon after collecting the vehicle from the mechanic and was admitted at Beatrice Hospital, prompting the complainant to send him additional money, bringing the total to $7 263.
On September 28, Siyakwazi’s friend visited Justice Cheda’s home in Bulawayo to inquire about the injured son only to discover that they had been duped. Siyakwazi then reported the matter to the police.
Using the same modus operandi, Munhuweyi duped former High Court judge Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe’s son, Naboth, of $2 300.
Bubi legislator Moyo lost $1 500 to Munhuweyi and Rudo Kariramombe lost $1 088. Nothing was recovered.