Senior Court Reporter
Harare wholesaler, Mr Amani Pierre, was duped US$235 000 by four suspected con-artists in a botched commercial stand deal.
Amani lost the money to John Levandale (49) and Charles Hamadziripi (44), who posed as real estate agents and sold him a non-existent stand in Hopley.
Levandale and Hamadziripi last week appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court facing fraud charges.
Magistrate Mr Richard Mangosi remanded them to April 27 on $50 000 bail each.
Mr Richard Mapanga, prosecuting, said sometime in January this year, Levandale, Hamadziripi, Alfonse Muzambi and Signal Robert Chinopikiti got word that Amani was looking for a commercial stand to buy in Harare.
The quartet then approached Amani saying they were real estate agents and were selling a commercial stand at No.10 Grobbie Park, Hopley.
They allegedly lied to Amani that they were selling the commercial stand on behalf of Syderstone Investments (Pvt) Limited.
Muzambi and Chinopikiti are still at large, according to the State.
Amani expressed interest in purchasing the stand and requested to view it.
Chinopikiti allegedly took Amani and his team to Hopley where they showed them a stand whose purchase price was pegged at US$300 000.
Amani is said to have bargained for a price of US$250 000 and the suspected con-artists agreed.
The businessman engaged his lawyer to verify the legitimacy of the stand before payment could be made.
The court heard that Levandale, Hamadziripi, Muzambi and Chinopikiti met Amani's lawyer at a Harare hotel where they exchanged documents relating to the stand.
During the meeting, Levandale passed himself as Patel Aashish Dinker, the director of Syderstone Investments.
He allegedly gave Amani's lawyer a fake identity card.
His alleged accomplices also posed as directors of Syderstone Investments and provided fake IDs.
The court heard that Levandale gave Amani's lawyer a fake letter of resolution authorising Patel Aaashish Dinker to represent the company in the sale of the stand.
Levandale allegedly gave Amani's lawyer the company's documents and a copy of Deed of Transfer for the stand.
Mr Mapanga said Amani's lawyer did the due diligence check but failed to pick any anomalies.
On February 4, Amani paid US$100 000 towards the purchase of the stand and promised that the balance would be paid after acquiring the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) Capital Gains Tax assessment fee.
The quartet acknowledged the payment and signed for the money.
On February 19, Amani received the Zimra Capital Gains Tax assessment which was pegged at US$12 500 and was due on March 20.
The court heard that Amani invited the quartet to his lawyer's office where he paid another US$135 000 towards the purchase of the commercial stand.
An agreement of sale was signed between Syderstone Investments, represented by Levandale, and Amani Enterprises.
After signing the deal, Amani's lawyer returned the national identification cards and documents used during due diligence to Levandale.
Amani later discovered that he paid for a stand that did not belong to the quartet and that fake documents were used in the transaction.
Levandale and Hamadziripi were arrested and found with US$20 000 each.