BULAWAYO – Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s son, Siqokoqela, has been sent to jail after he breached his bail conditions.
Siqokoqela, 40, of Hillside, had his bail revoked by Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushove on Thursday after he allegedly interfered with witnesses in his impending trial of fraud and theft.
His lawyer, Khulekani Sibanda, said they had gone to the High Court to challenge his incarceration.
“We’re approaching the High Court on an urgent basis today, we’re convinced the court erred,” Sibanda said on Friday.
Siqokoqela, a non-executive director in Choppies Zimbabwe, was arrested in August and charged with 170 counts of fraud after allegedly making unauthorised cash pick-ups of up to $52,000 from their retail outlets.
He was out on $200 bail awaiting his trial.
Mphoko’s lawyers say his legal troubles, which have also sucked in his wife, are part of a dirty campaign being waged by Choppies directors from Botswana who are trying to elbow them out of the business.
Choppies Zimbabwe is a partnership between Nanavac Investments, a company owned by the former Vice President and his son, and the Choppies Group headquartered in Botswana. The Mphokos hold a 51 percent stake and the Choppies Group a 49 percent stake in the business – but this is now under dispute.
Ramachanda Mottoba, the Choppies Group chief executive officer, has claimed the Mphokos were in reality given seven percent shareholding for free and the other 44 percent was a cover to comply with the country’s indigenisation laws.
With Mphoko now out of power, and with the indigenisation regulations set to be relaxed, the Botswana shareholders reckon he is weakened and it is time to take control. But the former Vice President has indicated his willingness to fight on.
Choppies Zimbabwe has 34 retail outlets spread out across the country.
Prosecutors say said Siqokoqela, being a shareholder and director of Nanavac Investments Private Limited trading as Choppies Zimbabwe, deceived employees that he was entitled to receive certain amounts of money and services.
As a non-executive director, prosecutors say he was only entitled to a gross salary of $10,000 per month, his children’s school fees in full, a company vehicle, monthly fuel for the company vehicle, 3.53 percent of profits after tax as divided at the end of each year and a telephone allowance.
There was no requirement that he has to report for duty at all.
But on various dates, Siqokoqela, without board authority or agreement with any of the shareholders or directors and without seeking their consent, allegedly proceeded to various supermarkets of Choppies Zimbabwe where he demanded for and received cash, goods or services with the value of $51,945.53.
The state argues that he did this by deceiving the employees into believing he was the one in charge of Choppies Zimbabwe and had the authority to demand or collect anything he so wished from the business and that he could collect goods on a credit facility which was itself a misrepresentation.
There were occasions, it is further alleged, when he also claimed that he intended to replace the cash taken by swiping with his bank card for the amount at one of tills, but left without paying.-Zimlive