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Muradzikwa’s son’s trial kicks off

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THE trial of prominent corporate executive Grace Muradzikwa’s son Kundai who is accused of theft by flamboyant businesswoman Luminitsa Kimberly Jemwa opened on Thursday with him pleading not guilty.

JONATHAN MBIRIYAMVEKA

Kundai, through his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, denied stealing money or jewellery from the complainant. He said his arrest was meant to tarnish the name of his family.

“The accused will plead not guilty to the charges preferred against him.

“He will deny that Luminitsa Kimberly Jemwa was the lawful occupier of the premises in question and will contest the suggestion that the premises can properly be called her ‘house’.

“He will further deny any suggestion that he ‘unlawfully’ intentionally and without permission or authority from the lawful occupier of the premises entered the premises. He will state that in terms of the lease agreement signed between Cewdar Investments, the owner of the premises and one Katu Muleya, the lessee of the premises, he at all times had the lawful right and authority to enter the premises as the lessor’s representative who had signed the lease agreement.

“He will further deny any suggestion that he evicted the complainant’s maid and will instead give the background to how he was in fact called onto the premises by the maid following protracted complaints by the maid of non-payment of her salary, non-juicing of electricity at the apartment resulting in the maid requesting him to buy electricity tokens, which he did on three occasions following undertakings for a refund by the lessee.

“He will further testify that due to failure to purchase electricity tokens for the unit, the maid ended up cooking at the caretaker’s quarters.

“He will testify that it was when he refuse to buy further electricity tokens for the unit that the maid called him to say she was leaving the premises as she had not been paid for some months and therefore had no food or other amenities, including electricity that he went there for the handover of the keys. As the apartments are fully furnished, he also wanted to ensure that none of the lessor’s furnishings, cutlery, crockery, glassware, etc would be removed from the premises. He will state that this is a right he has in terms of the lease agreement.

“He will state that upon the maid having packed what she claimed were her own belongings, he took photographs of what remained of what he believed were the ‘lessor’s and his guest’ belongings and these photographs were sent to the complainant who had been said to be lessor’s ‘wife’.

“He will state that none of the rooms at the unit were secure and that the maid had access to these rooms throughout. As the lessor had also had other guests on the premises in the absence of the complainant, such other guests equally had access to all other such rooms.

“He will state that he reported all these developments to the complainant who did not, at any stage, advise that there was cash or other expensive items such as jewellery at the unit as would have been expected. In fact, had there been cash and expensive jewellery at the house, any reasonable person would have prevented the maid from leaving before the lessee and the complainant had returned so that they would ensure that all their property was intact. He will place before the court communication showing that even after the complainant had returned to the house, she did not mention the items now alleged to be missing although she stated that the maid had been on a ‘shopping spree’ in the house and had stolen a lot of stuff. Instead, the complainant urged him not to communicate with her maid as she needed to ‘recover all the things she stole from us’.

“It is inconceivable that the complainant would not have mentioned the alleged missing cash and jewellery when she mentioned theft of other items.

“It is equally inexplicable why the complainant would have gone to Marondera to find money for the outstanding rent in the house. That the alleged theft was reported many days after her return is on its own inconsistent with there having been money on the premises, particularly taking into account that complainant had been told that the unit would be put up on the market if the outstanding rentals were not paid.

“He will dispute that he took any money or jewellery from the complainant, that he would not have been able to do so in the maid’s presence as he did not go back to the premises after the maid’s departure as he would have no reason to. He equally could not have believed there would be valuables in the house given the fact that the maid had a free run of the place as had done the lessor’s guests who were at the house in the complainant’s absence.

“He will therefore contend that his arrest was a gross abuse of the criminal justice system meant to embarrass him and his family as the complainant fed the media with falsehoods designed to discredit his family,” Mtetwa said.       

Jemwa flew from Johannesburg, where she is based, to attend court this week.

She was told to return on 18 May when trial resumes.

Those involved in the case accuse Muradzikwa of using police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga’s name to intimidate Jemwa, who is fighting the corporate executive’s son Kundai, accused of unlawful entry into the tenant home and stealing US$32 000 in cash and valuables amounting to US$120 000.

According to court papers, Kundai, the son of Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) commissioner Grace Muradzikwa and ex-Nicoz Diamond managing director, allegedly gained unlawful entry into their tenant Jemwa’s house at No. 4 Quinnington Road in Borrowdale Brooke, an upmarket housing estate in Harare’s northern suburbs, after forcing her maid to vacate the premises over delayed payment of rentals of US$1 700 per month.

Jemwa had promised to pay the rent in cash upon her return to Harare from Johannesburg, which she did.

However, before Jemwa’s return, Kundai had allegedly forced out her maid, seized the keys and gained illegal entry into the house and stole US$32 000, designer handbags and jewellery — comprising personal effects such as necklaces, rings and bracelets — amounting to US$120 000.

After that, Kundai then called Jemwa, claiming her maid had stolen her goods and left without telling her. Jemwa, top local footballer Nyasha Mushekwi’s former wife, now a businesswoman dating a Johannesburg-based local businessman, rushed back to Harare and allegedly found her money and valuables gone.

In the company of relatives, she paid a surprise visit to her maid Musodzi Pafiwa’s home in Domboshava, only to find that there was nothing to suggest she had stolen money, as her home did not even have groceries. Jemwa then got both Kundai and her maid arrested, even though she had not found anything at her helper’s home.

The maid told Jemwa that Kundai had forced her out and taken control of the house keys.

It is alleged that once he got the keys, Kundai unlawfully entered Jemwa’s rented property and made off with US$32 000, four pairs of designer shoes for men, three pairs of designer shoes for women, bags and tracksuits, two diamond-encrusted Rolex wrist watches, as well as one pair of diamond earrings, among other items.

However, no sooner had Kundai been arrested than his mother Grace, a prominent insurance industry executive, started allegedly interfering with police and investigating officers, saying she was well-connected, as she knew Matanga and had “immunity” from the law. She allegedly claimed her son also had “immunity”.

Grace is accusing Jemwa of falsely accusing her son of stealing.

Police officers indicated they were unable to proceed because of Grace’s alleged interference and name-dropping.

Grace is married to veteran journalist and Zimbabwe Media Commission member Henry Muradzikwa.

“The accused’s mother (Grace Muradzikwa) already interrupted the investigations by influencing the release of the accused person from the cells in the night well after the release time had passed. Since then, the accused’s mother prevented us from carrying (out) searches at his place of residence and influenced by being released from police custody within two hours of detention,” court papers say.

“The accused persons are facing serious offences, which if convicted, will face a jail sentence and the state has a strong case against this accused person, since he is the only person who entered the complainant’s house and it is proved through investigation that the crime was carried out by the accused person, since there is no break-in which took place.”

Additional information also indicates that the dockets went missing, not once, but several times, due to interference by Muradzikwa, after she allegedly threatened to rope in police chief Matanga.

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