Choppies drop charges against Mphokos Siqokoqela Mphoko

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
CHOPPIES chief executive officer Mr Ramachandran Ottapathu has withdrawn fraud and extortion charges levelled against former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s son, Siqokoqela and his wife Nomagugu.

The Mphokos were accused of hijacking the Choppies retail business and “looting” more than $80 000 worth of cash and goods. Siqokoqela, who was a shareholder in the retail business and a non-executive director, was alleged to have abused his power to “loot” $50 000 in cash realised from sales at different supermarkets and replacing it with transfers.

Nomagugu allegedly bulldozed various Choppies outlets in Bulawayo and demanding cash.

She allegedly ordered 15 Choppies Supermarket managers in Bulawayo to unlawfully dispense more than $30 000 cash from their POS machines after threatening them with either deportation or dismissal.

She is facing 49 counts of extortion while her husband has 170 counts of fraud. The matter is still pending before the courts and both of them are out of custody on $200 bail each.

In his affidavit tendered before the court signed on January 18, 2019, Mr Ramachandran said after discussions with the Mphokos, the complainants resolved to withdraw the charges against the Mphokos.

“I represent all the complainants in the matter of State versus Nomagugu Mphoko under CRB Byo 2431/18 and Siqokoqela Mphoko under CRB Byo 2567/18. After some representation and discussions between the complainants and accused persons, the complainants no longer wish to pursue their criminal complaints against the accused persons, and as such, a resolution to withdraw the pending criminal charges has been made. I confirm that this resolution has been made with full appreciation of the consequences thereof and there has not been any undue influence on the complainants,” he stated.

Siqokoqela will appear in court on March 5 while his wife’s case was postponed to February 14 pending a response from the State on Mr Ottapathu’s decision to withdraw the charges.

Prosecutors have acknowledged receipt of the withdrawn affidavit from the complainants and are expected to respond in due course.

The Mphokos have since exited Choppies Supermarkets after offering to be bought out of the company to end a protracted ownership wrangle.

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