Housing co-op executives up for US$1m fraud

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Munyaradzi Doma

Three former executive members of a Harare-based housing co-operative have been dragged before the courts for fraudulently selling 760 stands belonging to the organisation and pocketed US$1m.

The ex-leaders at Nehanda Housing Cooperative including former secretary Andrew Marauka (60), ex-treasurer Keri Mhute (67) and 60-year-old Charles Matapo who was the projects manager Charles Matapo (60), appeared before Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa charged with fraud.

The trio, which was represented by David Ngwerume, was not asked to plead to the charges and they will be back in court on February 5.

Prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti told the court that Nehanda Housing Cooperative was formed in 2000 and on its formation the now deceased, Never Kowo, was chosen as the chairman.

Mhute, Matapo and Jotam Nkala became treasurer, projects manager and security chief, respectively.

The objective of the housing cooperative, according to Mutsokoti, was to acquire land, service it and build houses for members.

Funding was to be raised through monthly subscriptions from members.

It is alleged that sometime in 2004, the cooperative was allocated Gillingham Estate measuring 442,400 square metres for development by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

The former committee led by Kowo surveyed the land, drew a site plan, pegged the stands, designed and opened roads and sewer reticulation systems.

They also built 900 houses for its members.

However, on July 22, 2015, Marauka, Mhute and Matapo allegedly sold 260 by 450 square metres, 50 by 800 square metres, 40 by 1000 square metres, 50 by 2000 square metres stands to Sungamberi Chipembere Housing Cooperative for US$289 250 without the approval or resolution from the cooperative.

Further allegations are that on July 27 of the same year, the three sold 310 by 450 square metres, 50 by 300 square metres to Imbahuru Housing Cooperative for US$814 931 without the co-operative’s approval.

As a result of the illegal transactions, it is alleged that the trio caused the cooperative to lose US$1 124 181 to Imbahuru and Sungamberi Chipembere co-operatives.

Their action also allegedly affected good reputation and administration of state land in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

The trio are out on free bail.

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