Africa’s Journal

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Africa’s Journal is a blog dedicated to the current events of Africa. It is a way for Africans to communicate with each other, discuss the conflicts within their countries, and celebrate their culture with the rest of the world.

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One Response to “About”

  1. George Mungai said

    PRELUDE

    The events below are based on factual happenings that took place in the years 2003 and 2004. Names, locations and dates have either been altered or are altogether fictitious.

    The victim received full compensation of US $ 800,000.

    For further guiding references, see story headlined “Police seek Briton who jumped bail”, on the back page of the Daily Nation of Tuesday, 15th March 2005 (www.nationmedia.com), and story headlined “Trader’s move to end theft case flops”, on page 14 of the Standard of the same date i.e. Tuesday, 15th March 2005 (www.eastandard.net)

    The matter is very interesting, and is of global public interest.

    Read on

    PART I- SURVEILLANCE

    On September 11th 2003 a Goan who introduced himself as David Pereira came to the Harare offices of Trans Oceanic Plantations (Caribbean, Americas, Asia, Africa, New Zealand), known in short as TOP-CAAAN, and asked to see me, David Sentwana, regarding a shareholding transfer. TOP-CAAAN as it’s name suggests, has interests in sugar, coffee, tea and cocoa in the Caribbean, the Americas, Asia, Africa and New Zealand, and has been in operation for 55 years now. I joined TOP-CAAAN as a management trainee in mid-1999 and had just completed 4 years of service. I
    was attached to the TOP-CAAAN share registry office as a relationship officer at the time of Mr. Pereira’s visit and therefore found nothing strange in being asked for, even though there existed a registry front office. I remember the exact date of Mr. Pereira’s first visit because I had just come from a dentist’s appointment to get a filling for one of my molars.

    David Pereira was a pleasant heavily built and dark skinned Asian and his mannerisms easily revealed that he was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. I invited Mr. Pereira into the interview room where we briefly engaged in pleasantries and dull banter about how we both shared the same first name. Thereafter Mr. Pereira produced a TOP-CAAAN share certificate which bore the names Stephen Benedict Pereira, which he said belonged to his late father, and which his mother discovered two years previously while unpacking, following the family’s relocation to South Africa. The family, according to Mr. Pereira, had since put the matter aside pending the visit of a close family member to Zimbabwe. Mr. Pereira further told me that his family did not treat the matter as urgent as the entire estate of his late father had already been transferred to his mother, and regarded the discovery of the TOP-CAAAN share certificate as a minor omission. Moreover, the shareholding was for a small amount of 50 shares valued then at US $ 140. Since he was in Zimbabwe on other business, he had decided to check on the small unfinished business of the TOP-CAAAN shareholding in the name of his late father.

    I took one look at the aged share certificate and could immediately tell that it was generated many years earlier when TOP-CAAAN was known as Northern Rhodesia Plantations and Mining (NRPM) and was based in Zambia (then known as Northern Rhodesia). While introducing the subject Mr. Pereira had mentioned that his father once worked for a tour company in the Zambian copper-belt, and it was probably at this time that he acquired the shareholding. The date of acquisition on the share certificate was 25th March 1959.

    I checked the office database and did not find a TOP-CAAAN shareholding in the name of Stephen Benedict Pereira which was not odd in such old cases related to NRPM. I however told Mr. Pereira that I would run a check on the share certificate at the Harare Central Registry (HCR) where manual records relating to the now defunct Northern Rhodesia Plantations and Mining were held, and give him an answer in two days. I told Mr. Pereira that it appeared that the share certificate in his hands had likely been reported lost years ago and a replacement issued. His father must have then sold the replacement, only for his family to discover the misplaced share certificate years later. Such cases were relatively common, but I nevertheless told Mr. Pereira to await formal confirmation from HCR in the next two days. Mr. Pereira was not opposed to this as he was going to be in the country for another three weeks. He left me with his local cell phone number to enable me notify him when HCR came up with an answer.

    There was a slight delay from HCR and they got back to us on 17th September 2003. As anticipated, records at HCR indicated that the share certificate of 50 shares shown to me by Mr. Pereira had been reported lost on 17th May 1977 and a replacement issued on 14th June 1977. Replacement share certificate No. TOP-CAAAN A40554 for 50 shares was then sold with other bonuses belonging to Stephen Benedict Pereira amounting to 400 shares, on 16th October 1984. Embarrassed at the delay and at my assurance that it would not take not more than two days, I immediately called Mr. Pereira to notify him of the findings and apologize for the delay.

    Mr. Pereira took no offence and was in fact very appreciative of my efforts, so appreciative that he wanted to buy me a drink. I declined the offer telling him that it was not necessary. Mr. Pereira however insisted that he would feel bad if he didn’t show his appreciation to me for me treating him so well. I thought about the likely implications for a brief moment, and then accepted Mr. Pereira’s offer to buy me a drink, not sensing any ulterior motive and not wanting to offend him. Mr. Pereira was glad at my acceptance and said that he would call me in the coming week for us to arrange a date and a time. He asked for my cell phone number, but I instead gave him the office number.

    Sure enough, Mr. Pereira called me first thing on Monday morning, 22nd September 2003, and proposed that we meet on Wednesday, 24th September 2003 at 6.00 p.m. at the elite Zambezi Cavern on the outskirts of Harare. I agreed to this because I regularly entertained valued TOP-CAAAN clients at the Zambezi Cavern and knew it very well, and because of it’s proximity to the Tutwane suburb, where I resided. Mr. Pereira’s promptness at arranging the meeting did however make me curious and thoughts of him being a homosexual and wanting to go to bed with me did cross my mind at this stage. If this was so, I intended to brush him off in a firm but civil manner, in the same way that I handled a similar situation eight years earlier, while a student at Illinois State University in the USA.

    I drove to the Zambezi Cavern on Wednesday, 24th September 2003, and arrived some minutes before 6.00 p.m. to find Mr. Pereira eagerly waiting for me. The Zambezi Cavern had been a whites only establishment before independence and still retained symbols of the colonial era such as the life size portrait of the last colonial premier, Ian Smith, that hang in the disused billiards room. For some peculiar reason, this never bothered the sizable and growing number of blacks that continued to patronize the Zambezi Cavern since independence 23 years earlier. Blacks probably regarded it as a sign of conquest for Ian Smith’s portrait to behold. I say this because despite being black, I didn’t identify much with the Zambezi Cavern and didn’t care much about it either, treating it more as an ideal location for entertaining valued TOP-CAAAN clients under my customer care portfolio. I quiet frankly spent very limited of my personal time at the Zambezi Tavern, preferring numerous other Harare establishments that did not have a tag, where I could freely be myself.

    Mr. Pereira welcomed me warmly and we got round to discussion on a wide number of topics ranging from business, politics, and sports, to women, relationships, and sex, invariably. He ordered a sumptuous meal of roast goat meat, fried vegetables and grilled potatoes dressed with the trademark Zambezi Cavern sauces. We both downed the meal with gusto. Mr. Pereira, who henceforth asked me to call him Dave, also put me at ease by freely and fluently conversing in ‘Ndeshoeng’, a dialect derived from Ndebele, Shona and English, and mainly associated with black rebellious youth of post-independent Zimbabwe. It was extremely rare for Asians and Whites in Zimbabwe to speak Ndeshoeng and considered Dave a rogue Asian, telling him as much. Dave laughed heartily, saying that I had made an accurate observation. I myself had never really cared about Ndeshoeng or been fluent in it either, but this changed after I jointly formed and became part of a rap group called ‘Sunset’, soon after my return from the states in mid-1997.

    Dave ordered a bottle of the best champagne in the house to down our meal as we engaged in further lively discussion. I was in a good mood as much as Dave was, but I could tell at this point that our meeting was more than a token of appreciation, more even than the seduction of a heterosexual by a homosexual.

    PART II – ENGAGEMENT

    As the evening wore on and the champagne took effect, Dave gathered the courage to tell me what our meeting was all about. He said that the he was aware that his late father had sold his shares in TOP-CAAAN way back in 1984, having found this out slightly before I joined TOP-CAAAN in mid-1999. Dave, in his words, had therefore taken the trouble of making contact with me for a different reason, something much bigger and something that would possibly interest me. He told me that he had been given my name by an undisclosed reference, who was confident of a key role I could play in assisting a lucrative venture. Dave told me that he and his unnamed associates were aware of lucrative, sizable and dormant shareholdings in TOP-CAAAN that were acquired several years earlier when TOP-CAAAN traded as Northern Rhodesia Plantations and Mining (NRPM). These were mainly registered in the name of Whites and Asians, who were either deceased or had left Northern Rhodesia in a panicky huff, fearful of reprisals from the incoming Black government of independent Zambia under President Kenneth Kaunda. Dave said that ‘we’ could take advantage of such dormant accounts through fraudulent share sales on the Harare Stock Exchange (HSE). The risks were minimal and the returns high, given that the owners of the targeted accounts, if still be alive, were scattered in North America, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, the Indian sub-continent, Goa and Oceania, with no intentions of ever coming back to Zambia or Zimbabwe. The Trustees of Estates of deceased TOP-CAAAN shareholders were probably less aware of the shareholdings, as Northern Rhodesia Plantations and Mining (NRPM), had started of as a small remote concern with a shaky shareholding, and a dim future. Against all odds however, NRPM had grown into the profitable TOP-CAAAN of today, and had made an above normal return to initial shareholders through numerous dividend payments and several bonus share issues. When NRPM was incorporated initially, it’s shares cost no more than a few US cents, but now traded at the high HSE mean price of US $ 6 per share.

    All this came as shocking news to me. Perhaps I was ready to right off all that Dave was telling me until he dropped the ultimate shocker. Dave told me that they had already executed a successful fraudulent transaction worth US $ 230,000 right under our noses and without detection. I believe that the alcohol in me at that moment simply evaporated. Dave told me they managed their successful criminal undertaking in February 2003. He further told me that my role would be to search the TOP-CAAAN share register for dormant accounts. The way to determine this would be through identifying accounts that had unclaimed dividend payments over a period of 15 to 40 years. Dave said that the bigger the value of a dormant account I identified the better, telling me to target dormant accounts with values ranging from US $ 600,000 to US $ 900,000, or bigger if possible. Dave said that my reward for this would be a very generous and I would be able to fulfill all my wildest dreams. Dave however told me that I needed to make a quick decision on whether I wanted to join or not. Dave kept repeating that chances of detection would be minimal and that any trail would promptly be destroyed. Dave said that if I decided in, then I would need to notify ‘them’ soon to enable effective planning. Dave did however mention the existence of White in the scam called Richard. Dave would front for a dormant Asian owned shareholding, while Richard would front for a dormant White owned shareholding in the books of TOP-CAAAN. Whites and Asians in Zimbabwe still benefited heavily from a privileged status, and their dealings were seldom questioned. Dave said that ‘we’ needed to fully exploit this bias. A White or Asian in Zimbabwe could very easily open an account of US $ 100,000 without drawing questions, as opposed to a Black like me. To ally my fears, Dave said that this would be resolved through very dependable contacts he had in the Bulawayo branch of National Bank of Zimbabwe (NBZ), who would easily enable me open an account of US $ 100,000 or US $ 200,000, depending on the size of the job. The cash transactions of the February 2003 mentioned to me by Dave, had actually been processed through NBZ, Bulawayo, according to Dave. Dave told me that Richard was based in South Africa, where he
    actually was currently, and a meeting could be arranged between the three of us in the next two weeks time if I agreed to join ‘them’. Dave told me that he would call me the following week on Monday for my answer.

    I sat there in shocked, bewildered and stupefied silence all the time I was being told this. I didn’t let this show on my face though, and Dave must have interpreted this as a good sign of me doing the calculations of gain in my head. We broke off at about 10.00 p.m., Dave telling me that he was driving to his room at the Harare Sheraton, and me to my house in Tutwane. I drove home in stone cold reflection that night, wondering what I had gotten myself into and how to handle it. I clearly realized that the choices I had were not easy. Joining ‘them’ in the dead-end career of crime was out of the question for me and I ruled this out. What worried me though was that ‘these’ people knew me ‘well’ and had conferred before approaching me. They could come for me and finish me if I turned them in and this concerned me. I could also simply tell Dave that I did not want to have
    anything to do with their wretched schemes, turn a blind eye and keep quiet about the whole thing without telling a soul. This would however also be irresponsible, unforgivable and criminal in the highest degree, and would have made me an accessory to a crime or crimes. In a curious and twisted way, I would end up a criminal if I decided to join ‘them’, or if I held back from joining ‘them’. There were also risks in simply making the right decision and turning in Dave and his associates to the authorities. Such was the difficult predicament that I faced. I didn’t worry much about who might have referred Dave & Co. to me, because I was an outgoing person who as mentioned, had even jointly formed and been part of a rap group called ‘Sunset’. Five Years after ‘Sunset’ folded up and four years after working at TOP-CAAAN, there were still people in Harare who recognized me more for “Sunset’, than for TOP-CAAAN.

    PART III – EXECUTION

    I woke up the following morning still confused and still hoping that my meeting with Dave the previous evening was just a figment of my imagination, a dream. I prepared to go to work all the time reflecting on how to deal with the situation I now found myself in. I got to work as usual at 7.00 a.m., read the two main Harare dailies, prepared myself a cup of coffee and drank it as I finalized a report on TOP-CAAAN’s expansion of operations to the East African region of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. I never ordinarily did tasks of this nature but the head of TOP-CAAAN operations had asked me to do it for her as a favor. The office secretary, Deborah, came in as usual at 7.30 a.m. teased me momentarily as usual, and then went to her desk. Deborah was very fond of me, probably because ‘Sunset’ were a hit when she was in high school. At about 8.30 a.m., I called my estranged wife Theresa to chat. Theresa worked for the Coca Cola Company in Zimbabwe as a marketing executive. We had met four years ago at a public relations workshop for key corporations in Zimbabwe, courted for a year, were married for two, and separated for the last one, typical of youth marriages nowadays in Zimbabwe. Theresa could tell something was wrong, because I only called her at that time of the morning when something was wrong. I almost told her what I was calling her about, but hesitated because of her penchant for drama. I could almost be sure of seeing what I told her on the 6 o’clock news that evening. I instead told her that I had developed butterflies about enrolling for an MBA at Harare University and needed encouragement, which Theresa was good at. She encouraged me on not knowing why I had called her about in the first place. I however decided to keep my meeting with Dave to myself until I was certain that what he told me on the evening of 24th September 2003 was not designed to start a wild goose chase.

    I spent the rest of the week and weekend in my usual mood doing the usual things. No one close to me noticed any significant change in my mood which I considered positive. From this point on however, I decided to carefully detail any dealings I would have with Dave or anyone linked to him.

    Dave called me at 10.00 a.m. on Monday morning, 29th September 2003 and was very pleasant as usual. After the pleasantries, Dave asked me if I had made a decision on the matter we had discussed and I told Dave that I first needed to meet him and Richard together before making a decision. Dave was delighted to hear this, considering it a positive answer. Dave suggested that the three of us could meet at the Victoria Falls Hotel on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia the coming weekend and I told him that this was ridiculous. Dave loves the fast life and I wasn’t sure whether he was serious or joking. Either way, I wasn’t making a trip to the border at such short notice. Dave laughed and shrugged it off, and said that he would arrange a meeting for the three of us the coming Friday, 3rd October 2003, at the Hotel Intercontinental, Harare. Dave called me again on Wednesday, 1st October 2003 to confirm whether our meeting of Friday was still on and I responded affirmatively. Dave told me that he and Richard would be at the Hotel Intercontinental, Harare, at 6.00 p.m.

    I arrived at the Intercontinental at 6.05 p.m. on Friday, 3rd October 2003 and found Dave and Richard waiting for me at the lobby. Dave introduced me to Richard as David Sentwana and he to me as Richard Jeremy Martin. Richard told me that his friends called him RJ and he therefore wanted me to call him RJ. Dave and RJ were certainly determined to induce camaraderie as quickly as possible. After the introduction, Dave and RJ suggested that we take a table in the secluded Gazelle restaurant. RJ ordered three cold beers, Mvuma lagers, for the three of us, before getting down to business. RJ told me that he was an accountant by training and had worked for South African Breweries for several years, before resigning and venturing into the tours and travel business in South Africa. He told me his tour firm was called RJ tours and travel and had been in operation for eight years. He and Dave had known each other for 12 years, having first met in Malawi where Dave was marketing his firm’s computer software products and RJ was doing feasibility studies for the establishment of a brewing plant in Malawi. Both their businesses were going through hard times in 2002 when an undisclosed acquaintance of Dave’s introduced the subject of dormant shareholdings at TOP-CAAAN. Dave’s undisclosed acquaintance was a former employee of the Harare Central Registry (HCR). RJ says that he initially hesitated but bought in after they sent a letter to TOP-CAAAN asking us to change the postal address of a dormant account provided by the former employee of the Harare Central Registry (HCR). The former HCR employee provided the specimen signature of the dormant account and Dave and RJ, arranged for the same to be forged on to the said letter at a seedy down town Harare joint. Proof that their criminal venture had worked emerged when RJ received a TOP-CAAAN dividend cheque at a Johannesburg postal address he used for dubious dealings. The dividend cheque was for US $ 10,000 and it is this more than anything, that encouraged Dave and RJ on. Forged documents were prepared for RJ, and he used these to open an account at National Bank of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, using Dave’s contacts. When the cheque cleared and the monies withdrawn without a hitch, RJ, posing as the shareholder, then resorted to corresponding with TOP-CAAAN, saying that he had misplaced his share certificate and wanted to be issued with a replacement. As mentioned, the enquiring shareholder was White and no objections were therefore raised. The necessary replacement documents and indemnities were duly executed and RJ received a replacement share certificate after two months. RJ and Dave thereafter arranged for a prompt sale of the shareholding through Maryland Stockbrokers of Harare. Dave acted as RJ’s appointed representative in all matters by way of a written letter of authorization, and this aided in the smooth flow of matters.

    I told RJ and Dave that I appreciated this lengthy and detailed background to their first successful job and was encouraged enough to join them. Dave and RJ were clearly elated with Dave proposing a toast at the entry of their latest recruit. It was about 9.45 p.m. when we toasted, having each had five beers each. After the toasting and hearty, elated conversation, I told RJ and Dave that I was curious to know the name of the victim. Dave and RJ hesitated briefly before RJ told me that it belonged to one Anthony Stephen Wilkinson. I then gave both Dave and RJ my cell phone number and RJ gave me his. Dave and RJ told me that they were both frequently in and out of Zimbabwe and either one of them would make contact with me in the next two weeks to establish progress made. We also agreed that we would henceforth primarily communicate through our cell phones. I parted ways with Dave and RJ at 10.00 a.m. and caught a taxi home as engine repairs were still being done to my car. I was more confident on the night of 3rd October 2003 than I was on the night of 24th September 2003, because I could now approach my superiors with more concrete details.

    On Monday morning, 6th October 2003 I arrived at the office as usual at 7.00 a.m. skipped reading the papers, and immediately logged on the network to check the TOP-CAAAN shareholding details of one Anthony Stephen Wilkinson. Sure enough, the entire shareholding of 78,000 shares was disposed of on 25th February 2003. Prior to this, the shareholding postal address had been altered from Murrayfield Close, 22 Sandra Street, Yorkshire NF4 NJ5, United Kingdom, to Sisulu Drive, P.O. Box 45, Johannesburg, South Africa on 18th September 2002. The US $ 10,000 dividend cheque Dave and RJ told me was for the final year ended 30th June 2002, which fell due on 25th October 2002. The dividend cheque was en cashed on 27th November 2002 according to our records. The magnitude of what I was dealing with sunk in at that point. I was further mystified and perturbed by the recklessness of the people I was dealing with. Had they blown up US $ 230,000 in the short period of 7 months, because the pair were eager that we get on with a second job as quickly as possible?

    At precisely 8.06 a.m. on Monday, 6th October 2003, I called the TOP-CAAAN share registry head, Ken Masatwana, and told him that I needed to see him immediately about some highly sensitive information I had. Masatwana told me it was okay for me to go and see him immediately. I spent about 40 minutes giving Masatwana graphic details of my encounter with Dave and RJ. Masatwana was in two words, shell shocked but remained calm and composed as was his trademark. Masatwana then called Deborah and asked her to immediately fetch Anthony Stephen Wilkinson’s file from the basement safe that contained all shareholder records. As was the practice, Deborah went down to the basement with one of the office duty guards, to complement the two basement guards posted there on a full time basis. Deborah could tell that something was wrong and this was clearly noticeable on her face. Meanwhile, Masatwana told me to go to my office as he conferred with the General Manager, TOP-CAAAN and TOP-CAAAN Plantation Security Unit (PSU). This I did.

    At 2.45 p.m. on Monday, 6th October 2003, Masatwana called me and asked me to go to his office which I did. In it I found Masatwana and Senior Superintendent of Police (retired) Joshua Mudzurire, the dreaded head of TOP-CAAAN Plantation Security Unit (PSU). Mudzurire had been head of TOP-CAAAN (PSU), for 11 years now, before which he had worked with both the Zimbabwe Police Force (ZPF), and the Zimbabwe Intelligence and Security Unit (ZISU). Mudzurire welcomed me warmly and
    put me at ease. He asked questions mainly related to work at TOP-CAAAN and my job profile, before specifically enquiring about Dave and RJ. He asked about their appearance, mannerisms and cars they drove. It appeared that Mudzurire was trying to establish whether he could place Dave and RJ in his database. Mudzurire then told me that he and Masatwana had met the General Manager TOP-CAAAN that morning and a decision to play along had been made. The administrative offices of Harare TOP-CAAAN were actually housed in one sprawling complex located on the western outskirts of Harare city. The five coffee plantations proper were situated in the five provinces of Manicland, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, and Midlands. Mudzurire concluded by telling me that I was also scheduled to meet the Director of the Zimbabwe Intelligence and Security Unit (ZISU), Col. (ret.) Arthur ‘Shomron’ Sexwale, at the ZISU offices the following morning at 8.00 a.m. in the morning. The magnitude of what I had gotten myself into kept sinking deeper and deeper.

    Col. Sexwale, head of ZISU, was a highly respected figure in the whole of Zimbabwe. Sexwale initially served in the elite Chiredzi Battalion of the Zimbabwe Army (ZA), towards the end of which he attended specialised training in Israel. During his training in Israel, it is said that Sexwale was partly under the supervision of Brig. Dan Shomron, who headed the daring and stunning rescue of Israeli hostages from Uganda’s Entebbe airport in 1976, hence his nickname ‘Shomron’. On his return from Israel Sexwale helped form ZISU and was the first head of it’s Scorpion unit. The nickname ‘Shomron’ held because it is said that Sexwale and Brig. Shomron had a liking for each other, and because Sexwale in his own right, coordinated the demise of the dreaded drug cartel, Zim triangle, in a four year period between 1982 and 1986 that ended in a heavy exchange of fire between Zimbabwe Security Forces and Zim Triangle on 18th May 1986. The successful operation earned Sexwale Presidential and Military citations. I couldn’t believe that I was going to have the honour of meeting Sexwale, and that this matter was that serious.

    I arrived at the ZISU offices on Machel Street at 7.45 a.m. on Tuesday, 7th October 2003 and went through the normal security checks. It was clear that I was being expected because I was not subjected to any close scrutiny at all and was immediately led to Col. Sexwale’s fourth floor office. Sexwale like Mudzurire the previous day, welcomed me warmly with a firm handshake, offered me a seat and even personally poured me a cup of TOP-CAAAN coffee. I couldn’t believe I was in the presence of the legendary Col. Arthur ‘Shomron’ Sexwale, and not nervous at that. I even told Sexwale that I still admired him greatly for crushing Zim triangle, for which he thanked me, smiling mildly, shyly and reflectively. Sexwale did not however waste time getting to the point. He told
    me that TOP-CAAAN was very important to the economy of Zimbabwe, hence the seriousness with which this matter was being treated. Quite a bit was at stake and the government would certainly be displeased to hear about the incident I had reported. Sexwale told me he was due to meet the Minister of Internal Security that morning on a different matter, but would not mention the incident I had reported until we had established greater details. Sexwale told me that I would be the linkman in reining in the suspects in an operation to be coordinated by Company 13 of ZISU and TOP-CAAAN Plantation Security Unit (PSU). Sexwale concluded by telling me to be careful and return to the office where I would receive further briefing from Mudzurire.

    I returned back to the office and went straight to Masatwana’s office to give him details of my meeting with Sexwale. Masatwana told me that he and Mudzurire would work on identifying a dormant account and let me know in due course. Meanwhile, Masatwana dropped another bombshell and told me that TOP-CAAAN General Manager, Stanley Davidson, would be visiting the share registry that afternoon. Things appeared to be moving at a breathtaking pace.

    Davidson had been General Manager of TOP-CAAAN for twenty years and was as no-nonsense as they come. His grandfather Reverend Nicholas Hubert Davidson came to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), in 1921 and was key in establishing the West Nicholson Elementary, Intermediate and Senior Schools, the West Nicholson Polytechnic and the West Nicholson Hospital, all in the Matabeleland South province. Reverend Davidson and his family were therefore highly respected in Zimbabwe. His grandson, Stanley Davidson, was born, brought up and educated in West Nicholson. Stanley was fluent in both Ndebele and Shona, and was regarded as the representation of a true Zimbabwean, having refused to defect when President Mugabe took over leadership in April 1980. Many did not even regard Davidson as a White and he was even nicknamed ‘Mzilikazi’, after the revered patriarch of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe. On a personal note, Davidson reminded me of my estranged wife Theresa, firm but moody.

    Davidson’s meeting with TOP-CAAAN share registry staff was scheduled for 5.30 p.m., 7th October 2003, after formal office hours. Mudzurire was also in attendance. Masatwana was first to speak saying that there appeared to have been a breach of serious magnitude at TOP-CAAAN share registry, which was likely to cost TOP-CAAAN as a whole a lot of money. Masatwana said that action was already being taken and asked all of us to exercise extra care and diligence in our duties. Masatwana did not however divulge any details. Davidson basically repeated what Masatwana had said with minor additions. We could all tell that he was suppressing his fury, but he lapsed at one point by revealing that he had always regarded us highly, but was grateful that we had finally emerged in our true colors as ‘thick Zimbabweans’. This was typical of Davidson and no one took offence. He spoke to all workers in this way regardless of their race. Davidson however cautioned that he would spare no one found to have deliberately facilitated the breach, and we didn’t doubt him. The meeting concluded at 6.15 p.m. without Davidson speaking directly to me, though he must have known my role in the matter. Mudzurire did not speak and I gather he was on an intelligence gathering exercise. The mood among staff thereafter was understandably one of confusion and anxiety, because very few of us were aware of what had actually happened. Staff hurriedly gathered in multi-racial groups and spoke in anxious whispers. Deborah typically helped lighten up matters by saying that she would supervise delivery of all office stationery to the printers the following morning for the logo to be replaced with the initials ‘TZ’. All of us looked at Deborah in bewilderment for a split second, before she reminded us that we were ‘thick Zimbabweans’, picked up her handbag and walked towards the waiting staff van. We all burst out in laughter. Deborah has witty cheek.

    Staff at TOP-CAAAN staff registry however got to basically know what had happened over the following two weeks. Masatwana cautioned us to keep the breach within ourselves in a supplementary meeting. Mudzurire appeared to believe that the breach did not directly involve TOP-CAAAN share registry staff, and so he and Plantation Security Unit Staff largely centred their investigations elsewhere. Masatwana however thought differently but did not openly show it.

    Towards the 17th of October 2003, Masatwana called me to his office, where I found him in the company of Mudzurire. Masatwana with Mudzurire’s approval, gave me details of an account I was to give Dave and RJ when they next made contact with me. The account was in the name of one Fredrick Parker Smith of 22 Foulkener Drive, Alice Springs, Australia. The account had a shareholding of 22,000 shares then valued at slightly over US $ 125,000 and additionally had unclaimed dividends dating back to 1974 totaling US $ 25,000. Masatwana, Mudzurire and I agreed that this was sure to be attractive to Dave and RJ. Mudzurire told me to regularly keep him informed on any developments henceforth and gave me his cell phone number. This was important as this would also give him ample time to notify Company 13 officers of ZISU attached to the case.

    RJ called me on my cell phone on Monday morning, 20th October 2003 and got to the point after limited pleasantries. I told him I had identified an attractive dormant account. RJ was excited to hear this and suggested that we meet at the less conspicuous Harare Holiday Inn that evening. I told him that was fine and we agreed to meet at 6.00 p.m. that evening. After my conversation with RJ, I immediately called Mudzurire who was glad that Dave and RJ had made contact. Mudzurire said that he would arrange to be discreetly present at the Harare Holiday Inn that evening with one or two Company 13 officers. I met RJ some minutes after 6.00 p.m. on Monday, 20th October 2003. RJ ordered the beers, after which I immediately gave RJ the details of Fredrick Parker Smith’s shareholding. RJ was ecstatic saying that it fitted the profile perfectly, and said that we could immediately commence work on it. I took RJ one step back and told him that I was disappointed to note that Anthony Stephen Wilkinson’s shareholding which he and Dave had fraudulently disposed of, reflected regularly cashed dividend payments. I asked him to explain this, as he and Dave had assured me of minimal risks. RJ was cleared stunned by this unexpected question and made every effort to calm my nerves. He admitted that he and Dave had not told me everything regarding Anthony Stephen Wilkinson’s shareholding. I feigned anger, disappointment and betrayal which RJ went to great pains to dispel. RJ told me that the Anthony Stephen Wilkinson matter had been referred to him and Dave by the still unnamed former employee of Harare Central Registry (HCR), which in turn had been referred to him by local Zimbabwean Whites who knew the family of Anthony Stephen Wilkinson.

    He and Dave had then met the HCR man and the unidentified local Whites in a series of meetings to plot their criminal act. I told RJ that Anthony Stephen Wilkinson appeared to be alive which meant that the matter would soon blow up. I asked how he, Dave and all other involved people, intended to deal with this. RJ had no words. He admitted that he and Dave had decided to de-link themselves from the HCR man and the unidentified local Whites, and start on a fresh slate of crime. RJ told me that the Anthony Stephen Wilkinson saga was an eye-opener for him and Dave, which had encouraged them to go it alone. They hoped to make between US $ 1 to 1.5 million and call it quits after that. What came to mind was that I was dealing with amateurs who seemed to have a lot of trust in me for one reason or another. I told RJ that the success of our criminal act depended on us being open with each other, and he fully agreed. He promised that he and Dave would no longer hold back any information from me. I noted the presence of Mudzurire at the east end cafe at some point during my discussion with RJ and knew we were under surveillance. RJ asked me if I could provide him with Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature, and I told him to give him till Wednesday, 22nd October 2003, to arrange for the same.

    RJ and I parted ways at 7.45 p.m. on Monday evening, 20th October 2003. The tension that featured at the start of the meeting fizzled out towards the end. I got home at 8.05 p.m. and immediately called Mudzurire. Mudzurire told me that they were present throughout the entire duration of my meeting with RJ. He did not specify who ‘they’ were, but he must have meant officers from ZISU Company 13. Mudzurire told me he would be at the office first thing the following morning when I would have a chance to brief him of what transpired in my meeting with RJ.

    The following morning, Tuesday, 21st October 2003 at 8.10 a.m., Masatwana called me and asked me to go to his office. I expectedly found Mudzurire eagerly waiting for my verbal report. Both Masatwana and Mudzurire listened to details of meeting with RJ with great intent without interrupting me, and this enabled me finish in about twelve minutes. Mudzurire stared at me briefly at the end, gave a heavy sigh, clamped his hands tightly together momentarily and said ‘thank you, Sentwana’, in his characteristic sluggish deep voice.

    Mudzurire told me that Masatwana would arrange for me to get a copy of Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature the following morning to enable me deliver it to RJ. Mudzurire also told me to prepare a written report of my meeting with RJ of 21st October 2003. This would be the third report I would be preparing having already prepared two lengthy reports. I could tell intuitively from the kind of treatment I was getting lately from certain parts of the office, that I was regarded as suspect and party to the first fraudulent transaction. I could understand this, because I had not involved anyone in the office initially, and notified the office after I had already had two meetings with Dave and one with RJ. I did not let this cloud my focus however. It did get me thinking though. I realized that I hadn’t notified any close family member of mine as yet, regarding the matter, which could also prove costly in it’s own way. That evening, I sent a detailed e-mail to my older brother Kevin, in Nairobi, Kenya, where he works for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). I made sure I used my personal Yahoo e-mail address and likewise, his personal Yahoo e-mail address.

    Kevin called me on my cell phone first thing the following morning as I was preparing to leave my house in Tutwane. Kevin was very supportive and congratulated me for alerting my superiors. He like Sexwale, also told me to be careful in my dealings with Dave and RJ and told me to keep him regularly updated through e-mail inspite of the fact that it wasn’t full proof. He was also thrilled to hear that I had met Col. Sexwale.

    RJ called me at 9.15 a.m. on Wednesday morning, 22nd October 2003, to enquire whether I had acquired a copy of Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature, and I told him that I had. He was elated and asked if we could also meet that evening at 6.00 p.m. at the Harare Holiday Inn, which I accepted. I immediately called Mudzurire on his cell phone to alert him. Mudzurire asked me if Masatwana had as yet given me a copy of Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature and I told him that he hadn’t. Mudzurire told me that he would arrange for this in the next one hour. Sure enough, Masatwana called me to his office at 10.30 a.m. to give me a copy of Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature.

    At 5.45 p.m. on 22nd October 2003, I called Mudzurire on his cell phone to notify him that I was on my way to meet RJ at the Harare Holiday Inn. Mudzurire told me that they were actually already there awaiting both me and RJ. I got to the Holiday Inn at 6.00 p.m. and found RJ waiting for me. On this occasion we opted to have coffee instead of beers, TOP-CAAAN coffee at that. Whilst the coffee was being brought, I gave RJ the copy of Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature. RJ told me that he intended to prepare a dummy letter to TOP-CAAAN from Fredrick Parker Smith saying that he had changed his residence worldwide several times over the past 30 years and was now settled in the United Kingdom. RJ’s letter would state that he i.e. Fredrick Parker Smith had stumbled upon some old documentation relating to his shareholding in TOP-CAAAN and was therefore writing to enquire on it’s status. This had also been further aided by him i.e. Fredrick Parker Smith, continually hearing frequent and favorable mention of TOP-CAAAN performance on the UK financial markets. RJ said that he would use the UK address of undisclosed contacts of his to avoid raising suspicions because Anthony Stephen Wilkinson had written a similar letter and had his UK postal address altered to a South African postal address. The current postal address of Fredrick Parker Smith on the TOP-CAAAN share register was Australian and it would not appear irregular that he had relocated residence several times over the years, and was now based in the UK.

    RJ would arrange for Fredrick Parker Smith’s initial letter to be hand delivered to TOP-CAAAN. Standard procedure would be for TOP-CAAAN to verify Fredrick Parker Smith’s signature and content of his letter, with what we had on record, and respond as required by the shareholder. The major point of reference was actually the shareholder’s signature, which would match in this case. TOP-CAAAN would then send Fredrick Parker Smith the information he had asked for, accompanied by indemnities covering the issuance of a dividend draft for a total amount of US $ 25,000. This would be sent to Fredrick Parker Smith’s UK address as indicated on his letter. RJ’s UK contacts would then send TOP-CAAAN’s response to his South African postal address by DHL to enable signature appending and processing of forgeries. TOP-CAAAN would then process a draft of US $ 25,000 and send it by registered post to Fredrick Parker Smith’s UK address. RJ’s UK contacts would again similarly send the draft by DHL to RJ in South Africa. As in Anthony Stephen Wilkinson’s case, Dave would then arrange for an account to be opened for Fredrick Parker Smith at National Bank of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, where the draft would be processed. Forgeries and other criminal processing fees would amount to about US $ 7,000 according to RJ, which would leave Dave, RJ and myself with US $ 6,000 each.

    In between this, Fredrick Parker Smith would also write another letter saying that he was also not in possession of his share certificate, which again, was understandable. The issuance of a replacement share certificate would go through a similar process, meaning that we would reap criminal gain from the draft and the sale of the shares, around the same time. In the meantime, Dave and RJ expected that I would be working on identifying other big dormant accounts worth US $ 1,000,000 to enable us wind up our criminal venture in the space of six to nine months. We would thereafter part ways for good. RJ estimated that we would be able to obtain Fredrick Parker Smith’s replacement draft within seven or eight weeks’ time, as he would arrange for delivery of Fredrick Parker Smith’s initial letter to TOP-CAAAN on Monday, 27th October 2003. We concluded our meeting on this detailed understanding at 7.15 p.m. on Wednesday, 22nd October 2003. RJ told me that like Dave, he stayed at the Harare Sheraton whenever he was in town.

    I got home at about 7.40 p.m. on Wednesday, 22nd October 2003, called Mudzurire and gave him a seven minute briefing of my meeting with RJ. Mudzurire listened intently as usual and at the end, told me to prepare a written report the following day and deliver it personally to his office.

    The next four weeks were quiet regarding the matter of TOP-CAAAN, Dave and RJ. I heard nothing from Mudzurire, Masatwana, Dave or RJ. This silence was however broken on Monday afternoon, 24th November 2003 by a call from RJ on my cell phone. RJ was in a good mood and showered praises on me for my exemplary role in the matter so far. He told me that the executed indemnities for the issuance of a replacement draft had been delivered to TOP-CAAAN the previous Friday, and we would all get paid around the second week of January 2004. RJ however told me that this was reason enough to hold a small celebration following the successful conclusion of the first stage. He told me that Dave would be in town that Thursday, and the three of us could get together on Friday, 28th November 2003 at the Hotel Intercontinental, Harare. I had no knowledge of what RJ was talking about, but I nevertheless played along and accepted his invitation.

    Immediately after getting off the phone with RJ, I called Mudzurire to let him know about the latest development. I also let him know in a firm but polite matter, that I was displeased at having been kept in the dark on the happenings of the past four weeks. I would have appeared extremely incompetent to Dave and RJ had they called in between wanting information. Mudzurire asked me to go to his office immediately to enable us discuss the matter. At his office, I continued by telling Mudzurire that I should never have been allowed to take part in the operation if I was suspected of complicity in the matter, and should have been either interdicted or summarily dismissed. I told Mudzurire that I was most exposed and most at risk in the matter, and did not appreciate this shoddy treatment at all. Moreover, no consideration to lessening my regular office duties as I gave attention to the matter of Dave and RJ, had been given. The expenses I was incurring in the matter of Dave and RJ were my own and had not been allocated any budget. It’s as if I was working for myself and not TOP-CAAAN, and now this call that morning from RJ.

    Mudzurire read my fury clearly and asked me to calm down. He told me that he was glad to hear that I was due to meet Dave and RJ this coming Friday and would use that opportunity to have Dave and RJ arrested. I would then have the chance to air my grievances after this. Mudzurire told me he had been shown Fredrick Parker Smith’s purported submissions that morning that included a passport photocopy that bore RJ’s image. Mudzurire told me that they could use this to move in
    on RJ, and was more than pleased to hear that both of them would be in town on the coming Friday. Mudzurire told me to keep my composure at this crucial stage.

    PART IV – CONCLUSION

    RJ called me on Friday morning, 28th November 2003 to confirm whether our meeting that evening was still on and I confirmed that it was. He told me that he and Dave would be at the Harare Hotel Intercontinental at 6.00 p.m. at the first floor balcony, next to the Chizarira bar. I then called Mudzurire on his cell phone to notify him of this. I felt relieved that the matter was likely to be concluded that evening, which would enable me focus on other things. At 5.45 p.m. that evening, I called Mudzurire, and he told me that he and a team of officers from ZISU Company 13 were already stationed at the Harare Intercontinental. I now knew why Mudzurire was highly regarded for his dependability.

    I got to the Intercontinental at 6.05 p.m. and immediately proceeded to the first floor balcony where I found both Dave and RJ. They both greeted me with elation calling me Zimbabwe’s newest millionaire. As usual, RJ ordered three cold beers for the three of us as we engaged in hearty discussion. Dave, who I had not seen since 3rd October 2003, jokingly asked me whether I would buy a mansion in Harare’s elite Stephanie neighbourhood when this was over, or whether I would take a once in a lifetime luxury cruise around the world. RJ dismissed Dave saying that I would almost certainly go into politics. I said that I would not opt for either of their proposals, and would instead marry four extra wives, and we all broke into prolonged laughter. Coincidentally, all three of us were separated from our wives. Dave was the more excited of the two, suggesting that we should hop from joint to joint getting really plastered and end the evening at ‘Cloud 9’, a famous downtown Harare brothel. RJ was in agreement and I sat there staring at both of them in bewilderment. Dave asked if I was offended by the final part of their suggestion and I replied no, but quickly added that both of them should have been born Black, and there was more prolonged laughter. I had never known that Asians and Whites also went to ‘Cloud 9’. On a serious note, Dave told me we would need to see each other about opening an account for me at National Bank of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, when he and RJ obtained Fredrick Parker Smith’s draft of US $ 25,000. Since NBZ was linked nationwide by Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT), I would be able to make convenient withdrawals and deposits at any of their branches, including Harare, once my account was operational.

    In between our second beer, Mudzurire, called me on my cell phone and asked me make out as though I was speaking to a client. This was at about 6.40 p.m. He then told me to excuse myself and go to the bathroom after five minutes, where I would find a Company 13 officer in a navy blue suit. I would then leave the Intercontinental with the Company 13 officer trough the back exit and be led to his vehicle. Company 13 officers led by Inspector Timothy Turugize, would then move in and arrest Dave and RJ. I did exactly what Mudzurire told me and was in his car in the next few moments where I witnessed the arrests with him. The whole episode took about fifteen minutes and I must say I was impressed with the manner Turugize handled it. There were four or five other Company 13 officers strategically located close by, from what I could see. Mudzurire didn’t however appear to be paying attention, and was instead busy attending to calls on both his cell phone and the communication radio in his vehicle. I had never had much regard for ZISU Company 13, feeling that it was just a unit of Ndebele and Shona officers, created for the dual purpose of reducing unemployment, and scoring political points. This bias changed that night. No wonder Mudzurire could afford to attend to other matters as Company 13 carried out the arrests.

    After fifteen minutes, Dave and RJ were led out discreetly by Turugize and his officers, and we drove in a convoy of about five vehicles to Chitungwiza Police Station in central Harare. Mudzurire left me in the car and went in for about half an hour. I urinate a lot when I drink, and I relieved myself twice in the bushes during that half hour. It brought back teenage memories of how I was once arrested near this very Chitungwiza Police Station for urinating close to it’s fence and ‘desecrating the Republic of Zimbabwe’. While also waiting for Mudzurire, Turugize and at least two other Company 13 officers came to Mudzurire’s vehicle to thank me. I was honored. Mudzurire dropped me at my Tutwane house at 8.00 p.m. that night. He also thanked me.

    About three weeks after the night of 28th November 2003, Deborah received an overseas call from someone claiming to be Anthony Stephen Wilkinson, enquiring why he had not received two or three dividend drafts.

    ………………………………..

    All the above events took place in Kenya

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