Freeman Razemba Harare Bureau—
The board chairman of the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) (Pvt) Ltd and managing director of Nemchen (Pvt) Ltd, Leslie John Denn, committed suicide last week in unclear circumstances. Denn, 35, shot himself once in the head and his body was found by his wife at their Borrowdale home in Harare.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident yesterday. “On May 9, his wife left for work at around 7.30AM and left Denn at home. Denn is reported to have told her that he would go to his workplace later. “The wife returned at around 5PM and asked the house maid where Denn was. She was told that he was sleeping in the bedroom,” he said.
Chief Supt Nyathi said the wife tried to open the door to the bedroom but found it locked from inside. She later broke a window to the bathroom to gain entry into the bedroom. Chief Supt Nyathi said the wife found Denn lying dead in a pool of blood with a pistol beside him.
It was still not clear yesterday why Denn committed suicide and police say they are still investigating the death.
Denn’s death follows police’s intensification of their manhunt for two First Oil Company (Private) Limited directors who are wanted on allegations of obstructing the course of justice after they reportedly connived with CMED managing director Davison Mhaka to cook up papers showing how $2.7 million in a botched fuel deal was spent.
The two directors Alex Kudakwashe Mahuni and Lynon Gilbert Katunga, who are believed to have masterminded the processing of the fake documents through an IT expert in South Africa with Mhaka to conceal the case, are suspected to have fled to South Africa.
Chief Supt Nyathi said they were still looking for the two in connection with the CMED case.
“We’re still looking for Mahuni and Katunga for defrauding CMED and also for trying to defeat the course of justice as defined in Section 184 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act. We also want them for Money Laundering as defined in Section 8 (2) of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act Chapter 9,24,” he said.
“Mahuni and Katunga approached an ICT expert in South Africa and asked the individual to produce false documents, purporting to be evidence of cash transactions that were made for the US$2,7 million which was missing at the Central Mechanical Equipment Department.
“Figures stated in the false documents ranged between R500,000 and R5 million. The matter came to light when one of the owners of the company that they had claimed to have paid raised a complaint that he had not received the money. The CID Serious Fraud Squad is handling the case and are hunting for these two suspects.”
Chief Supt Nyathi said anyone with information leading to their arrest should contact CID Headquarters or the National Complaints Desk on (04) 703631 or any police station. Mahuni and Katunga’s alleged accomplice, Mhaka, was arrested last month and has since appeared in court where his case is still pending.
He appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe facing charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice and violating the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.
Police are also investigating the whereabouts of the $300,000 which was withdrawn as cash at a time when the money amounting to $3 million was released by CMED. The money was withdrawn by Brian Manjengwa, the then parastatal’s fuels manager, under the instruction of Mhaka.