Senior Court Reporter
FORMER Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s daughter-in-law has been arrested for allegedly ordering 15 Choppies Supermarket managers in Bulawayo to unlawfully dispense more than $30 000 cash from their Point of Sale (POS) machines after threatening them with either deportation or dismissal.
Nomagugu Mphoko (36), who was initially jointly charged with her husband Siqokoqela, appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sithembiso Ndlovu yesterday facing 49 counts of extortion. She was remanded out of custody to September 3 on $200 bail.
As part of the bail conditions, Nomagugu was ordered not to interfere with State witnesses.
Prosecuting, Mr Nkathazo Dlodlo said sometime in June this year, Nanavac Investments trading as Choppies Zimbabwe issued a directive to all its supermarket managers against giving out cash realised from sales to individuals whose arrangement is to replace the equivalent through swiping at Point of Sale machines.
The court heard that between 13 and 29 June this year, Nomagugu went to the complainants, some of whom are Indian nationals, and demanded cash during which she also threatened to either get them fired or deported if they refused to comply.
She would then swipe the equivalent of the money received using different bank cards.
“Upon being advised of the directive against such transactions, the accused would threaten the shop managers with loss of employment and deportation from Zimbabwe. She would also tell the complainants that her husband is the owner of the company and that they were mere employees under his authority,” said Mr Dlodlo.
The court heard that as a result of the threats, the complainants acceded to Nomagugu’s demands and gave her the money.
“The accused person derived the advantage of easily accessing cash which is hard to come by. Her conduct resulted in loss for Nanavac Investments in that being a retail business, the company’s outlets rely heavily on cash to pay critical suppliers, including arranging for foreign payments with local banks,” said Mr Dlodlo.
The cash which was unlawfully collected by Nomagugu from the 15 shops amounts to $30 230. The money was looted on different occasions from Choppies shops in Bulawayo’s Central Business District, Luveve, Pumula East, Entumbane, Bellevue, Nkulumane and Lobengula suburbs.
Nomagugu is being represented by Professor Welshman Ncube of Mathonsi Law Chambers.