Monday 4 September 2023


A BINGA chief has found himself entangled in a legal quagmire after his Government-issued vehicle disappeared under mysterious circumstances, allegedly at the hands of a conniving mechanic in collusion with a car local dealership.

The case is now before the courts, a year-and-a-half after Chief Saba, born Charles Siamakando Mudenda, handed the Isuzu KB 250, registration number AFC 6983, to Leaning Munkuli for repairs when it developed a mechanical fault.

Chief Saba had been travelling from Harare to Binga via Bulawayo when the vehicle developed a mechanical fault and he phoned Munkuli who advised him to bring it to his workshop for a diagnosis in mid-2021.

That was the last time Chief Saba saw the vehicle until a chance encounter with a white gentleman driving the Isuzu double-cab in the Bulawayo city centre. Munkuli, the mechanic, allegedly began evading Chief Saba’s inquiries regarding the vehicle’s status, offering a myriad of excuses as weeks turned into months.

Fed up with the unending runaround, Chief Saba reported the matter to the police at Bulawayo Central Police Station, resulting in the opening of a theft of trust property case under case number CR77/11/22.

The mechanic is reportedly on the run and is being sought by the police to assist with investigations into how a Government issued vehicle was sold to a third party without knowledge of the traditional leader.

The vehicle is now being kept as an exhibit at the Bulawayo Central Police Station until the conclusion of the court case.

“The car developed a problem when I was almost in Bulawayo from Harare and Munkuli told me to drive it to his workshop so that he can have a look at it. I proceeded to Binga and left the car with Munkuli but weeks later he kept on making excuses whenever I asked him when I should come back to Bulawayo to collect the car.

“After months of giving countless excuses, I discovered that Munkuli had given the car to a man named Frederick Topiya as collateral for a US$2 500 loan. I reported the case to the police after that,” said Chief Saba.

Investigations by the police have uncovered information suggesting that Topiya, the individual who received the vehicle as collateral, subsequently sold it to a third party named Mr Johannes Geradus Blom.

“It was by chance that I ran into a white man who I later learnt is called Mr Blom driving my car in Bulawayo and when I asked him, he said he bought it from a car dealership. I explained to him that the car was given to me by the Government and that the last time I drove the car was when I gave it to a mechanic to fix it. Mr Blom told me the car had a mechanical problem when he bought it from Topiya and he had to take it to South Africa for repairs. The case has been in the courts since then,” Chief Saba recounted.

In a letter gleaned by Chronicle, written by Mr Blom’s lawyers — Joel Pincus, Konson and Wolhuter — he requested a meeting with Chief Saba to settle the matter.

“We act for and on behalf of Mr and Mrs Blom who have instructed us to set up a roundtable meeting between the parties at our offices. The meeting is motivated by the ruling which was made on the 30th of December 2022,” wrote the lawyers.

Blom’s attorneys proposed three dates for the roundtable meeting — January 26, 2023, January 31, 2023 or February 1, 2023. The proposed meeting never materialised, according to Chief Saba.

“We have not met, my car is still with the police and I’m forced to use public transport when travelling for chiefs’ meetings or Government business,” he said.

Chief Saba expressed concerns for his safety, citing anonymous threatening phone calls, leaving him in a state of unease.

“I don’t know, maybe there is someone out there who doesn’t want me to pursue the case because I get calls from people saying I should just accept that the car is no longer mine. The people who signed the fake agreement of sale have something to hide so they are scared the case will expose them. Why are they threatening an old man who just wants his car back?”

Represented by T Hara and Partners, a Bulawayo-based law firm, Chief Saba remains steadfast in his pursuit of justice.

In response, car dealer Topiya asserted that the vehicle was brought to his dealership by a client for resale. He denied any involvement in a loan arrangement with Munkuli.

“I’m just caught in-between. This case is between the client who brought the car to my dealership for resale and the eventual buyer Blom. The case is before the courts so I don’t understand now why my name is being dragged in all of this. Go to the court or the police for more information. I’m in the business of selling cars to earn my commission and that’s how the car ended up in my dealership,” said Mr Topiya.

The director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Gabriel Masvora said the onus is on chiefs to fix the cars when they develop mechanical problems.

“When the cars are handed over to the chiefs by the Government, they become the personal property of the traditional leaders so they (chiefs) are responsible for maintenance of the vehicles. It’s advisable that chiefs take the cars to reputable motor vehicle repair shops for maintenance,” said Mr Masvora.

Bulawayo police spokesman Inspector Abdenico Ncube clarified how an item held by the police as an exhibit can be released back to its owner or forfeited by the State.Herald


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