A BULAWAYO businessman was yesterday sentenced to six years in prison for swindling his business partner of $145,880. Tonderai Chakamanga of Burnside suburb was found guilty of stealing from Hetnesh Suman Patel — a co-director in their companies — Zambezi Filling Station and Patbro Seals in Victoria Falls.

 Handing down sentence, senior regional magistrate, Mark Dzira said it was clear that Chakamanga had swindled his business partner.

“The State managed to prove its case and thus you are found guilty as charged. You are therefore sentenced to six years in prison of which one-and-a-half years are suspended on condition of good behaviour. A further one-and-a-half years are suspended on condition that you restitute Patel the sum of $145,880 by the end of this year. You will serve two effective years,” said magistrate Dzira.

Prosecuting, Tinashe Dzipe told the court that on April 1 this year, Chakamanga realised a total of $391,796.39 from the fuel business and collected rentals amounting to $6,825 from Patel’s properties but only banked $306,552, after concealing profits which he converted to his own use.

The crime came to light when Zuva Petroleum approached Patel demanding outstanding payment for fuel supplied and it was discovered through an internal audit that Chakamanga had been converting the money to his own use.
It was also established that Chakamanga would allegedly raise forged expenses vouchers claiming that his business partner had taken some of the money, which Patel denied.
Dzipe also told the court that in 2011, Chakamanga requested for a proprietary security valued at $75,000 and received Patel’s personal copy of the title deeds for a property in Victoria Falls to ensure the garage kept running.

The title deeds security was only to ensure Chakamanga received fuel before payment.
Chakamanga received the fuel, sold it and converted part of the money meant for Fuel Masters Petroleum, to his own use.

He also requested for more volumes of fuel saying he wanted to boost sales during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation conference, fully knowing that he was owing some money.

Chakamanga went on to convince Patel to allow a $30,000 bank overdraft to process the huge volumes of petrol.

In April, he was fined $1,000 for selling Patel’s vehicle worth $5,000 without his permission nor that of his partners. He converted the money to his own use.

Dzipe told the court that sometime in February 2013, Chakamanga was instructed by Patel to collect his car, a Nissan pick-up which was at Patbro Seals at number 290 Rumsey Road in Victoria Falls. It was agreed between parties that Chakamanga would take it for repairs and use it for the day-to-day running of the business at Zambezi Filling Station and at Patbro Seals offices in Victoria Falls which he owned together with Patel.

Chakamanga collected the vehicle and took it for repairs as agreed. Contrary to the agreement, he allegedly sold the vehicle unlawfully to Stanely Mukome for $4,000. The offence came to light on August 25 last year when Patel visited Zambezi Filling station only to discover that the vehicle was not there. A report was made to the police, leading to the arrest of Chakamanga. chronicle

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