A top Bulawayo lawyer, Russell Dzete, allegedly ganged up with three accomplices and forged title deeds which they used to sell a house in the city’s leafy Suburbs residential area for $50 500 without the owners’ knowledge, a court heard yesterday.
russell-dzeteBulawayo magistrate Ms Evelyn Mashavakure heard this when Dzete (33) of Athlone Flats corner JMN Nkomo Street and Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue appeared before her facing fraud charges.
Dzete, who is with Marondedze, Mukuku and Partners Law firm in Bulawayo, allegedly connived with Austin Moyo, Cavan Maibvise and Joseph Masose Mugavazi to defraud the complainant of her money.
Ms Mashavakure did not ask Dzete to plead and remanded him out of custody on $150 bail following an application by his lawyer, Ms Charity Nkomo of Ndove, Museta and Partners.
Ms Mashavakure ordered Dzete to report once a week at Bulawayo Central Police Station and to reside at his given address until the matter is finalised as part of the bail conditions.
The State had opposed bail, arguing that Dzete was likely to abscond given that he has other pending court cases. The State had also cited fears that the accused was likely to interfere with witnesses, particularly the complainant by negotiating with her for a refund of the prejudiced money.
Prosecuting Taurai Hondoyemoto said sometime in May this year, Dzete connived with Moyo, Maibvise and Mugavazi to identify an abandoned house at Suburbs.
The court heard that the trio forged documents and placed an advert in The Chronicle purporting to be the owners of the property and selling the house.
“The complainant responded to the advertisement and she arranged with the three men to meet with Dzete presiding over the meeting,” said Mr Hondoyemoto.
They allegedly produced fake title deeds of transfer under number 1553/1966 and the unsuspecting complainant fell prey to the fraudsters and signed a memorandum of agreement of sale.
The complainant transferred $50 500 into the law firm’s trust account.
The offence came to light when the owner of the property noticed that his house was being renovated and a report was made to the police leading to the trio’s arrest.
Last year another prominent lawyer with the now defunct Cheda and Partners Law firm in Bulawayo, Mlamuli Ncube and three accomplices, allegedly forged powers of attorney and used them to sell two houses in the leafy suburbs of Burnside and Fortunes Gate for $75 000.
Ncube is now on the run after allegedly committing a series of fraud cases.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said the Government is worried about the increase in bogus and unscrupulous lawyers who are defrauding the public.
The VP, who oversees the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, said the Government had noted the worrying reports of people who have lost money and property to unruly lawyers.