Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
FORMER Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko's son, Siqokoqela, has been arrested because he allegedly hijacked the Choppies retail business and plundered more than $ 50,000 in cash and merchandise from outlets across the country & # 39 ;.
Mphoko (40), a director of Nanavac Investments (Private) Limited, a local partner for the Botswana-registered Choppies Distribution Center (Proprietary) Limited, appeared yesterday for Bulawayo magistrate Ms. Sithembiso Ncube with 170 counts of fraud and theft.
He was taken pre-trial detention until September 14 on bail of $ 200. As part of the bail conditions, Mphoko was instructed not to interfere with state witnesses.
Mphoko, who is a retail shareholder and a non-executive director, is accused of having misused his power to "cash" cash from sales at various supermarkets and to replace it with transfers.
The process of prosecution, said Mr. Nkathazo Dlodlo, from July last year to June this year, Mphoko went to several Choppies supermarkets where he allegedly demanded different amounts of cash, goods and services for different purposes from the employees without approval of the board.
"The accused fooled the employees into believing that he was at the helm of Choppies Zimbabwe and had the power to demand or collect whatever he wanted from the company, and he also told employees that he had the authority to to collect on a credit facility, which was a misrepresentation, "said Mr. Dlodlo.
The court heard that Mphoko had collected money, groceries and an assortment of building materials and ordered staff from the finance department on several occasions to deduct the money from his salary.
"The accused would then confront staff of the finance department and order them not to deduct any amount from his salary.
"There were cases where he also incorrectly proposed that he was planning to replace the money by sweeping Point of Sale (POS) machines," said Mr. Dlodlo.
According to court records, Mphoko as a non-executive director was entitled to a monthly salary of $ 10,000, commercial vehicles, fuel, telephone surcharge and 3.53 percent of post-tax profit as a dividend at the end of each year.
Although he was not supposed to be directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, Mphoko would be disguised as the owner of the company in Zimbabwe and even threatened to dismiss or deport employees of Indian descent because they defied his orders.
The case came to light in May 2018 when Botswana-based president of the Choppies, Mr. Ottapathu Ramachandran, discovered that there was a series of financial imbalances while going through the accounting of business management.
It was discovered that the company was biased from $ 51,945.53.
The case was reported to the police and investigations were conducted that led to the arrest of Mphoko and nothing was recovered.
About two weeks ago the wife of Mphoko, Nomagugu, also appeared in court because she allegedly used various Choppies stores in Bulawayo and demanded cash.
According to reports, it ordered 15 Choppies Supermarket managers in Bulawayo to illegally surrender more than $ 30,000 in cash from their payment terminals after threatening them with expulsion or dismissal.
She faces 49 counts of extortion and was released from pre-trial detention until September 3 on bail of $ 200.
The Mphokos are represented by Professor Welshman Ncube from Mathonsi Law Chambers. – @mashnets