Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter
A BULAWAYO man masqueraded as a magician and allegedly duped two soldiers of $18,500 after hoodwinking them into believing that he could turn old Z$5 notes into millions of United States dollars, a magistrate has heard.
Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushove heard this when Brian Moyo, 26, of Nketa suburb appeared before him facing two counts of fraud.
Moyo was allegedly so convincing in his statements such that he would also send pictures of people carrying bundles of US dollar notes to entice the two soldiers, Simon Rambu, 34, and Alaster Anusa, 53, both stationed at 1 Infantry Brigade in Bulawayo.
The fake magician allegedly duped more people in Harare using the same modus operandi and the two soldiers were only telephoned by the police in November last year informing them of Moyo’s arrest following a tip-off in the capital.
Rambu allegedly lost $10,000 while Anusa lost $8,500 to the conman.
Moyo, who is being represented by Khulekani Sibanda of Mathonsi Law Chambers, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was remanded out of custody to February 17 on $300 bail.
Prosecuting, Simbarashe Manyiwa, said on April 3 last year, Rambu, received a telephone call from Moyo who indicated to him that he was interested in old Z$5 notes in exchange for thousands of US dollars.
Rambu informed, Anusa, his workmate and they phoned Moyo who tricked them into sending money through his Ecocash account under the guise that it was for his bus fare to Bulawayo. “The two men sent Moyo $40 after he had assured them that he would come to Bulawayo to discuss the deal,” said Manyiwa.
The court heard that Rambu and Anusa waited for Moyo but he did not turn up but instead formulated various excuses.
Moyo later phoned the two men and instructed them to deposit more money claiming it was meant to cleanse their $Z5 notes to enable it to multiply into millions of US dollars. He also instructed the complainants to carry out different rituals at their homes as part of the cleansing process. Anusa was prejudiced of $8,500 while Rambu parted with $10,000 and the money was sent to Moyo on different occasions through the Ecocash facility. The two men religiously played into Moyo’s hands until November 2015 when they received a phone call from police in Harare informing them of Moyo’s arrest following a tip-off. Anusa, in his testimony in court, said he sent Moyo $8,500 between April and September 2015.
“Moyo would ask me to send varying amounts claiming the money was for transport, diesel and other related issues. At one time he told us that we should check our bags claiming that he had magically filled them with thousands of US dollar notes and for that purported service he asked us to deposit $100 into his Ecocash account,” said Anusa.
Rambu said he lost $10,000 during the same period.
“Moyo was so convincing in his statements such that he would also send us pictures of people carrying bundles of US dollar notes to entice us to buy his story,” he said.
The two soldiers told the court that Moyo claimed that he was being used as a middleman by the “spirits” to collect the money on their behalf. “He would claim that he had helped several people to acquire millions of US dollars through his tricks with the help of spiritual elders. At one stage he claimed that some spiritual elders had visited his home and required money to perform the money changing magic,” said Rambu.
Sibanda, however, disputed the two soldiers’ evidence, arguing that it was fraught with inconsistencies and lies.
“The complainants are actually now constructing evidence from the dock something which they never mentioned in their statements. My client never met the complainants in the first place as they allege,” argued Sibanda.