HARARE – Senior Harare lawyers — Fred Machokoto and Pardon Nhokwara — are facing theft of trust property charges after they reportedly pocketed $57 000 which they had received on behalf their clients.
Machokoto, 42, appeared before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande and was released on $200 bail, but his co-accused, Nhokwara, a lawyer at Madzingira and Nhokwara Legal Practitioners, is still at large.
Machokoto and Partners Legal Practitioners, which operates from Hillside in Harare, is also cited as an accused person.
The complainants are Patience Tsvakwi, Killiot Mukanya, Robert Makwanya, Tawanda Mungwari, and Simbarashe Murewa — all farmers at Lot 3A Triangle Ranch Farm in Chiredzi.
In 2013, Tsvakwi and the other farmers got offer letters from the Lands ministry for the Triangle Ranch land, which was formerly owned by Triangle Limited.
Prosecutor, Sabastian Mutizirwa, alleged that the farmers conducted sugarcane production on the piece of land and delivered it to Triangle Limited for sale.
The court heard that Triangle Limited refused to pay the farmers and they sought reprieve from the High Court.
It was alleged that Tsvakwi and colleagues wanted Triangle Limited evicted from the plot and payment for the sugarcane they had delivered to the company.
The farmers won the case and entered into a Deed of Settlement with Triangle Limited and agreed to receive $57 000 in full and final settlement of the matter.
According to State papers, Triangle Limited then transferred the $57 000 through its lawyers, Scanlen and Holderness, into Machokoto Legal Firm’s account for remittance to the farmers.
However, it is alleged that Machokoto and Nhokwara went on to instruct the Sheriff to attach Triangle Limited’s property, saying the funds had not reflected in their account.
On April 5 last year, Nhokwara approached Triangle Limited in the Sheriff’s company and demanded payment of $68 098, 89 and the money was forwarded into the trust account again.
Machokoto and Nhokwara were supposed to return $57 000 to Scanlen and Holderness, since Triangle Limited had made another payment of $68 098, 89.
Instead of returning the money back to Scanlen and Holderness, the duo, who were both signatories to the trust account, reportedly converted $57 000 to personal use.
The State is in possession of bank statements showing funds transfer from Scanlen and Holderness Legal Practitioners into Machokoto’s bank account and another one showing transfer of money from Triangle Limited, which will be produced during trial. – Daily News