Odar Housing Consortium members arrested

Daniel Kachere Herald Reporter
Three members of Odar Housing Consortium based in Southlea Park, Harare, were arrested yesterday on allegations of illegally selling residential and business stands belonging to businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa’s Sensene Investments Private Limited, a division of Pinnacle Property Holdings.

The three include the consortium chairman Mr Benny Matenga and two others whose names could not be revealed yesterday.

Some named members who are linked to the case include Mrs Lina Madzinga, Retired Colonel Patson Mabika, Mr William Machiya, Mr Harry Muzondo, Mr Beaven Manyuchi, Mr Tonderai Madziyire, Mr Gift Kazetete, Mr Lawson Vumba, Mr Kudzai Kwangware, Mr Raphael Macheka, Mr Brian Masaka and a Pastor only identified as Manyonda.

Although details were still sketchy yesterday, police sources close to the investigations said the three suspects were illegally selling the stands to unsuspecting people after Government, in May this year, returned the land to Dr Chiyangwa’s Pinnacle Property Holdings.

According to police sources, the suspects are being held by CID Serious Frauds in Harare.

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, yesterday said she was yet to receive the report.

It is alleged that the three sold stands fraudulently to the unsuspecting public who were now paying for the same stand twice.

Sources said they were also running schemes that were fraudulently drawing money from the public on a monthly basis through the Ebenezer housing scheme. Investigations are still being conducted and the three are assisting police with investigations. Sensene Investments Private Limited is reported to have been prejudiced of over $100 million.

Odar Housing Development Consortium is made up of corporate companies who purport to have entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to take over Odar Farm and they would compensate the original farm owner for the land.

The agreement was entered into in 2006 when the farm was private land, which makes the agreement null and void.

When the Government returned the farm to Pinnacle Holdings, Pinnacle has been directing the residents to pay $150 per stand holder as registration fee before they could be told how much they would pay as compensation or face eviction.

The residents argue that they have already paid for the land to Odar Housing Development Consortium made up of 56 companies and they cannot afford to fork out more money for the same stands.

Pinnacle Property Holdings bought the land from its previous owners, but the Government compulsorily acquired it in 2010 after arguing that the company could not provide houses for low-income earners since it was profit-oriented.

The Administrative Court once confirmed the acquisition and allowed the housing cooperatives to continue parcelling out the land to house seekers.

But Dr Chiyangwa contested the decision at the Supreme Court, resulting in an out-of-court settlement with the Government and the returning of the land to his company.

Odar Housing Development Consortium chairman Mr Ben Matenga, wrote to the secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Engineer George Mlilo, saying the directive for them to engage Pinnacle was a deviation from an agreement they signed earlier with Government.

Eng Mlilo responded by declining the proposal, insisting that the earlier directive should stand.

The agreement between the Ministry of Local Government and Odar Housing Consortium is null and void.

However, in its nullity the agreement provided for the Consortium companies or individuals to pay compensation to the land owner and not the suspects as was the case.

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