8 August 2018

Zimbabwe: Clovgate Director Cleared of Fraud

Clovgate Elevators director Mr Collin Mapepa Jeche, who was being accused of defrauding ZESA Holdings of $622 000, has been found not guilty and acquitted by a Harare court.

Harare regional magistrate Ms Bianca Makwande cleared the businessman and his firm of any wrongdoing, saying the prosecution failed to prove misrepresentation in the case.

Mr Jeche, together with his company, who were represented by Mr Advent Tavenhave of Tavenhave & Machingauta, were arrested in August last year for allegedly failing to service four elevators at ZESA Holdings, despite being paid for the job.

It turned out that the dispute had previously been taken to the Administrative Court, the Supreme Court, the High Court and an arbitrator where judgments were handed down in favour of Clovgate.

Assessing the evidence brought before her, Ms Makwande yesterday ruled that the matter was purely civil and that there was no misrepresentation on the part of Mr Jeche or Clovgate.

The prosecution alleged that in 2013, ZESA Holdings invited bidders through the State Procurement Board (SPB) to dismantle and service four of its elevators in Harare.

Clovgate Elevators, in its bid, indicated that it would require 50 percent advance payment to buy the required elevator components.

Basing on the firm's bid submissions, the SPB on July 26, 2013 awarded the tender to Clovgate Elevators and advised ZESA Holdings to formalise the contract.

The total value of the project was $930 165 and on October 1, 2013, ZESA Holdings deposited $465 082 into Mr Jeche's MetBank account.

In February 2015, ZESA Holdings claims to have paid another $93 016,65 for customs clearance for the goods which, according to Clovgate, had arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (then Harare International Airport).

On August 15, 2015, Mr Jeche reportedly communicated to ZESA Holdings that the remaining equipment was at Beira port in Mozambique and requested $44 667 for clearance, which was also deposited into his bank account. The power utility claimed Clovgate did not install all elevators and that the letters stating that the equipment had been imported and required clearance were false and fraudulent.

To that end, Zesa Holdings claimed it had been prejudiced of $622 000.

During the trial, all witnesses denied the claim that Clovgate submitted fraudulent tender documents.

Clearing agents, who were called to testify for the State also told the court that indeed the letter for the release of $44 667 for clearing services was genuine and that the goods in question were cleared. Clovgate argued that the money they received was fully utilised for the project, but ZESA Holdings did not release enough money to complete the dismantling and servicing of all the lifts.

Clovgate told the court that out of the $465 082 deposit paid by Zesa, one goods elevator was supplied and fixed at a costs of $260 000, a figure which was never disputed in court.

The court also heard that Clovgate paid $130 000 for labour and tax obligations, while $125 000 was paid for the manufacture of major imported tools.

Clovgate also used its own $102 000 for the project, which was also accepted by State witnesses.

Another $230 000 was paid to Motion Control Engineering Pvt Limited for the purchase and fixing of components for the other three elevators, but ZESA reportedly refused to have the work done.

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