Prominent businessman denies crime link in Zimbabwe

ZimbabweA prominent Zimbabwean businessman Mr Abraham Chikozho of Chikozho and Sons buses, has dismissed as untrue and damaging, claims that he was involved in a case where three men are being accused of armed robbery and theft of vehicles in a syndicate that operates between Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Mr Chikozho had been implicated by Sikhumbuzo Dube, from whom two of the four stolen vehicles were recovered in Bulawayo last year.

Three men, Blessed Manisa (37) of 118 White City, Thato Marope (31) of 11096 Block 7 and Ontlametse Monageng (30) of 30 Blue Town, all in Francistown allegedly stole the vehicles when they raided a garage at gum point in Botswana and smuggled them to Zimbabwe where they were later arrested.

The three have since been extradited to Botswana in terms of Section 4 of the Extradition Act, Chapter 9:08 after appearing at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court until their extradition last month.

Mr Chikozho who owns a fleet of buses and trucks said he was not part of the gang as he is a “straight forward businessman”.

“This has affected me. I have never owned such a vehicle which Sikhumbuzo claims was registered in my name and it is now affecting my business because people now think I am involved in car theft,” said Mr Chikozho.

“I believe I have to clear the air so that the truth is known. I am actually surprised how he used my name alleging that one of the vehicles was in my name.  The truth is I am not part of anything like that, I prefer doing my business in a proper and transparent manner. I believe this is meant to tarnish my image and destroy my business.”

He said he got to know about the implications from a business colleague who had read the story.

“I do not really know Sikhumbuzo as we only met at a hotel while watching a soccer match and I have not spoken to him since this thing. It is surprising because I neither went to court nor did police contact me,” said Mr Chikozho.

His colleague, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “Mr Chikozho was in China when the story was published and I phoned him as soon as he returned.”

Dube, who was later released after the arrest of Manisa, Marope and Monageng, had told police that the trio had brought to him a Toyota Land Cruiser, which was registered under the name of Mr Chikozho.

He went on to say the three had promised to bring registration documents for the Hilux and an affidavit from Mr Chikozho.

The robbery took place at Tati Land Board premises in Masunga in the neighbouring country on 1 May last year.

Two of the vehicles were recovered from Dube who had been given to sell them on behalf of Manisa, Marope and Monageng.

The three suspected armed robbers allegedly pounced on the security guards and threatened them with a pistol before tying them with a wire.

It is alleged that they then stole vehicle keys, which were in a guard room and probably with the assistance of a  fourth person, drove away in four vehicles namely two Toyota Hilux double cab, a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Toyota Fortuner.

The vehicles had a combined value of $130 000, an equivalent of P910, 000.

Dube said Manisa, Marope and Monageng visited his house driving a Toyota Hilux, which they said belonged to Nyathi, who was in their company and said the vehicle was for sale.

He alleged that they later brought the Toyota Land Cruiser, which he said was in Mr Chikozho’s name.

Dube drove the vehicles to Lower Gweru where he operates a mine so that he could get buyers and was later arrested in Bulawayo upon which he implicated the trio.

Manias, Marope and Monageng were arrested at Mr Dube’s house after detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department Frauds Section set a trap.

Chikozho has since been cleared by the Police and courts as not involved in the deal.

© 2013, Vladimir Mzaca. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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