Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
POLICE in Bulawayo are investigating a ZB Life Assurance southern region manager who allegedly defrauded a former Bulawayo Polytechnic employee of nearly $50 000 in an insurance scam.
Francis Chitehwe, who is also the chairman of the United Bulawayo Hospitals Board of Directors, allegedly asked Ms Winnie Mapuranga to pay him $46 400 over a period of three years to help her get more than $1 million as a business loan from two life assurance policies with ZB.
Ms Mapuranga claims Chitehwe has reportedly been threatening to kill her if she reports that she lost her money to him.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango yesterday said they were investigating the matter.
“We received a report of fraud and threats of violence from Ms Mapuranga. Investigations are in progress,” said Insp Simango.
Ms Mapuranga told The Chronicle that she took $7 480 from Bulawayo Polytechnic where she was employed as an accountant and gave it to Chitehwe as part of the $46 400 payment thinking that she would repay it, but failed and she was fired.
She said she paid varying amounts to Chitehwe’s personal and Ecocash accounts and other transactions were made to his wife and son’s Ecocash accounts, all amounting to $46 000.
“In September 2011, I took a life assurance policy for $20 000 with Mr Chitehwe being my representative. In 2013 he told me that there were loans available at ZB Bank and advised me to apply.
“I signed the loan application form in his office for $35 000. In June 2014 he advised me to take another policy for $15 000 so that I could use the two policies as collateral for the $35 000 loan. I was paying $67 for the first loan and $65 for the second one per month. The money was deducted through my salary,” said Ms Mapuranga.
She said after signing for the second policy, Chitehwe told her that her loan had accumulated interest and it had to be cleared.
“He told me that the loan could not be processed before the interest was cleared. I paid the money he demanded for the clearance of interest being accrued on top of monthly premiums that were being deducted for the two policies.
“From January to December 2015, Mr Chitehwe would constantly call me and insist that I pay the clearance charges on the interest being accumulated, stamp duty due to the loan and transfer charges,” said Ms Mapuranga.
“In 2016, he continued to demand money to clear the interest and stamp duty. I lost my job at Bulawayo Polytechnic after I took more than $7 000 from my former employer and paid him in a space of a week.”
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development fired her last year in October after she failed to repay the more than $7 000 she took without authority from Bulawayo Polytechnic.
According to a letter from the Ministry written to Ms Mapuranga on October 19, 2016, she did not get her terminal benefits as they were used to offset the money she failed to account for.
Her policies also lapsed when she lost her job.
Ms Mapuranga said after she lost her job, she turned destitute after she was kicked out of the house she was staying in at Bulawayo Polytechnic.
“At one point he told me that part of the loan had been cleared and he had used the money to buy me a house in Morningside. He never showed me the house. He kept on giving excuses whenever I demanded to see the house,” said Ms Mapuranga.
She has since written a letter to ZB Bank registering her complaint against Chitehwe.
Chitehwe could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was not reachable.