HARARE – Johanne Marange Apostolic Church allegedly bought a stolen vehicle worth over $200 000 from a suspected thief.
Innocent Gumbura, 54, who allegedly sold the vehicle to the church, has since appeared before Harare regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa on theft charges.
Gumbura claims the complainant Omega Chatyoka, a farmer and businesswoman, was not the owner of the vehicle.
He said based on that, Chatyoka was not qualified to institute the legal process.
Gumbura said he sold the vehicle at Chatyoka’s instance, who wanted legal fees after being arrested in the United States.
Four witnesses have so far testified in a case set to resume on August 6.
Prosecutor Michael Reza told the court that charges against Gumbura arose in July last year after Chatyoka left her vehicle, a Toyota Sequoia in the custody of Abisha Svotwa, while she went to the US on business.
According to State papers, during the time, Gumbura, who was staying at Chatyoka’s house in Ruwa, Harare, took advantage of the businesswoman’s absence and lied to Svotwa that the woman had authorised him to sell the vehicle on her behalf.
After securing the car keys and the registration book, Gumbura sold the vehicle to Johanne Marange Apostolic Church in October last year, the court heard.
The Marange-based church paid $120 000, leaving a balance of $85 000. Gumbura allegedly drafted an agreement of sale, and promised to provide the vehicle’s registration book to the church after receiving the full payment of $205 000.
When Chatyoka came back from the US in December last year, she discovered that her motor vehicle had been sold.
She reported the matter to the police, leading to Gumbura’s arrest in January this year. Upon his arrest, the court heard Gumbura told the police he had sold the vehicle to an unidentified Congolese.
However, Chatyoka later spotted her car being driven along Samora Machel Avenue in Harare, heading towards Mutare. She quickly sought police assistance, leading to the recovery of the vehicle from David Sewera, a member of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect.
According to state papers, the vehicle is valued at $250 000.