THE Zimbabwe Republic Police last Friday quizzed high flying human resources executive and top businessman, Jack Murehwa over a “fraud and forgery” case involving the takeover of Bindura-based Ran Gold Mine, businessDigest can report.
The police subsequently handed Murehwa to the court. Hours before his court appearance, Murehwa had turned in at Harare Central Police Station after pressure mounted on him to explain how he obtained a “questionable and irregular” document, which ended with his rivals, Blackgate Investments losing swathes of the wealthy goldfields.
The executive voluntarily walked into the police station after Blackgate pressed him to reveal details of “forged” documents which they claimed were used to “fraudulently” takeover the 123-year-old mine.
He was given free bail after implicating two people in the letter. Police have turned their efforts to the two individuals and have until March 22 to do so when Murehwa returns to the courts.
Murehwa had to forgo luxury travel on the day of his court appearance and arrived at the courts in the back of a police truck, which prompted concerns by his legal counsel, Chris Mhike.
Mhike confirmed representing Murehwa.
“I am only representing him in the criminal case, not the civil side,” he said.
People aware of developments at the courts last Friday said Mhike was concerned that the businessman had been exposed to Covid-19 and forced travel under harsh conditions in Harare’s pot-holed roads. Police were this week tracking leads into the whereabouts of the people named as originators of the letter, which was used by a dispute resolution tribunal at the Ministry of Mines to make changes to Ran Mine’s claims.
“We made our own investigations and found out the letter was fake and approached the police,” said Angeline Munyeza, director at Blackgate.
“Murehwa told the court that he got the letter from two gentlemen and the police are making further investigations,” Munyeza said. Documents seen by businessDigest indicated that Blackgate obtained rights to exploit the resource about a decade ago.
However, it was shocked when G&P Industries came into the picture claiming ownership of the same asset. Following the ensuing mayhem — a decade of frustrations and legal suits — Blackgate has claimed that it has lost US$500 million in potential revenue, according to papers submitted to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2020.
Murehwa moved on site with his firm, G&P Industries to assemble a gold processing plant last year. However, Blackgate, which has laid claim to the 123-year-old asset, raised a stink, declaring that no bullion extraction should proceed until the blazing dispute is resolved in the High Court.
The case mutated into a criminal matter after Blackgate queried the letter and requested state forensic investigators to look into it. She spoke as Blackgate, sensationally claiming that Murehwa was being used by bigwigs to take over private assets.
“On the 22nd of January 2022 we opened a criminal case under case file CR:822/01/22 alleging that Mr Jackson Peterson Murehwa had committed acts of fraud and forgery in order to further advance his interests in a mining dispute involving Blackgate and G&P Industries,” Munyeza said in a letter to the police dated January 27, 2022.
“The premise of us opening the case emanated from the fact that Mr Jackson Peterson Murehwa submitted a fraudulent and forged letter to a hearing that was conducted in 2020 by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in order to determine whether or not the claims in dispute had been forfeited at the time Blackgate was registered as the holder of the claims. It is in the hearing that the questionable (and) irregular letter was submitted by him, which he vehemently purported to have been authored by then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Pro FP Gudyanga. Professor Gudyanga denies . . .the letter is not his. The letter was . . . never copied to us (as) Blackgate Investments,” Munyeza said.
She said the dispute resolution committee also denied knowledge of the letter.
“During the hearing at the Ministry of Mines offices, on the 6th of February 2020, before the legal dispute committee, Mr Jackson Peterson Murehwa tendered the letter to the dispute committee and they denied having the letter in their file or having minutes to back the letter,” she said.
“It was actually their first time to see the letter and thus what prompted us to go back to the High Court in 2020 and we won the case unopposed. The reason why the ministry, Ran Mines and G&P did not oppose our application for review in the High Court is because the ministry did not have the letter and the minutes in their file,” Munyeza said.
She then turned to Mines minister Winston Chitando, accusing him of taking sides with Murehwa.
Murehwa said he was not at liberty to comment on matters which are before the courts.
“If someone has taken this case to the courts it won’t be proper to comment. We cannot discuss issues that are before the courts,” he said.
But Munyeza is leaving no stone unturned in the case.
After raising the stink over government involvement in the dispute, she approached Godwin Matanga, commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, asking him to release an original copy of the disputed document, which she said was being withheld by the ZRP.
She said the document would be vital in Blackgate’s pursuit for justice in the High Court.
“We pursued this investigation with assistance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” she told Matanga in a letter dated January 31, 2022.
“The initial stage involved eliciting sample signatures from Professor Gudyanga for them to be examined by forensic experts to confirm the authenticity of the letter. The (ZRA) executed this successfully and attempted to submit the documents at the CID…but was briefly halted…as they attempted to request the original copy…Mr Kanyoka (ZRP) received the document and since then it has been in the custody of the police,” Munyeza said.
The letter was purportedly signed by Gudyanga in February 2013.
The letter said at the time of the registration of the claims to Blackgate, they were currently and rightfully owned by G&P Industries and in light of this, G&P Industries should proceed to occupy and work on the mine.
Gudyanga, who was permanent secretary in between September 2013 and May 2017 left government in 2017 after a fallout.
“I wish to state that I am neither the author nor generator of the letter dated November 2013 directed to Messrs Atherstone and Cook…the signature on the letter is not mine. Although it looks like mine, I did not sign the letter,” Gudyanga said.
It is the latest twist to a deadlock that has dragged the names of Zimbabwe’s late strongman Robert Mugabe and his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Fighting reached a tipping point in September last year, when G&P said it was pressing ahead to extract its first bullion at the mine in 22 years.
However, official documents indicate that Blackgate holds permits demonstrating ownership to the goldfields.
In a 76-page letter submitted to Mnangagwa about a year ago, Blackgate claimed that G&P warned them to tread carefully as the asset belonged to Mugabe.
The letter claimed that after Mugabe unceremoniously left power in 2017, Mnangagwa took over.
But Presidential spokesman George Charamba has said this was incorrect.
G&P is rebuilding Ran Mines, which made headlines in November 2020 after its shafts collapsed under heavy flooding.
Official documents show that Blackgate in 2010 was given full rights to mine at Ran Mines following an investigation into the dispute by a mining commissioner, who said it had demonstrated “serious commitment…to be allowed to resuscitate the old Ran Mines”. – (The Independent)