Harare City Official Arrested in $400K Land Fraud Case

Senior Harare City Council Official Arrested in Land Fraud Scheme

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Abel Zhawao and Conwell Mutevhe, two accomplices of Felix Chisango, a senior officer of the Harare City Council, have been apprehended by the Zimbabwean police in an important case for their suspected involvement in a complex land fraud scam. The three are charged with organizing a scheme to forcibly purchase abandoned land worth US$400,000.

After appearing before Harare regional magistrate Taurai Manuwere, the following people were granted bail: Chisango, 48, the chief clerical officer in the council’s finance department; Zhawao, 50, the director of Greenway Multiple Agency (Pvt) Ltd; and Mutevhe, 38, a lawyer and managing partner at MC Mukome Legal Practitioners. The bail amount was set at US$150 per person. On June 28, they are expected back in court for a standard remand while the investigations are ongoing.

The subject of the case is two parcels of land that Lusitania Primary School determined to be abandoned: stands 314 and 315 in Athlone Township of Lot 2A Greengrove, Harare. Since United Services Club, the original owner, had abandoned the land and had not paid rates for more than 20 years, the school had indicated interest in purchasing these plots with the intention of building a high school. Additionally, a legal restriction ensured that the land could not be sold without the consent of the community.

Prosecutor Anesu Chirenje explained that Cannan Mugiyi, a town planner and consultant working on behalf of the school, had approached the council about using the Title Registration Act and the Derelict Land Act to help with the land’s legal acquisition. But it is claimed that Chisango took advantage of the chance and conspired with Zhawao and Mutevhe to obtain the land through deception before the school made an official request.

Mutevhe is charged with falsifying a High Court application while posing as Greenway Multiple Agency’s representative and asserting that the organization had lawfully purchased the land from United Services Club in 2008. The three allegedly attached a fake agreement of sale and falsified the signature of another director at Greenway Multiple Agency, Amos Kanyongo, to support this allegation. In addition, Mutevhe is accused of forging signatures on court documents under the identity of Mabasa Crispen Mukome, a senior partner at his firm.

In addition to his fraudulent actions, Mutevhe allegedly forced Tawanda Gondo, a courier for his law company, to fabricate a statement claiming that he had served legal papers to Brighton Vito, a purported United Services agent. The High Court eventually granted an order for a change of title as a result of these deceptive actions, which made it possible for Referral Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd to purchase the land for US$400,000. It was suggested that the three suspects shared the revenues of this deal.

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