Bad end for fake prophet-cum-cop

Sharon Munjenjema
A Chitungwiza man has been sentenced to seven months in prison for duping a woman of a cellphone after claiming to be a prophet, and further defrauding the victims’ two relatives while impersonating a police officer.

Chitungwiza magistrate Ms Blessing Murwisi last week jailed Simon Coffee (30) of Unit N Seke, two counts of fraud, and another two of impersonation as defined in various sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Mr Farai Katonha represented the State.

Coffee pleaded guilty to conning Christine Hungwa (46), Tambudzai Musetwa (42) and Gamuchirai Murwira (45), who all married into the same family.

It was the State’s case that on October 31, 2017, Coffee approached Hungwa at her house and posed as a prophet capable of solving her problems.

The following evening, the pair met at shrine in Unit L.

Coffee asked Hungwa for her phone so that he could use its torch as they walked to his residence for more prayers with other apostolic sect members.

“Before arriving at his place, Coffee ordered all of them to proceed to Nyatsime to collect some ritual apparatus and was left behind with the cellphone. When complainant returned, the accused was gone,” said the State.

“On November 2 at around 0800, Coffee called second complainant, Tambudzai Musetwa, whose number he had accessed in Hungwa’s phone.”

The court heard that Coffee misrepresented to Musetwa that he was a police officer who had arrested Hungwa, and demanded US$20 to set her free. The “fine” was paid to him via mobile money.

After an hour, Coffee called Gamuchirai Murwira and made the same claim as he had said to Musetwa.

“Murwira also sent the accused US$20 via EcoCash,” the court heard. “At around 1000 hours accused called Musetwa again and demanded another US$10 which was sent to him via EcoCash.”

Then a few hours later Coffee called Musetwa for the third time and demanded another US$30.

“Musetwa, who was now suspicious, arranged to meet the self-proclaimed police officer in person at a shopping centre. Coffee did not show up. He sent one Sonboy Shumba to collect the money on his behalf.”

However, the complainant had informed the police and a trap was set leading to the scam unravelling and the recovery of Hungwa’s Lenovo cellphone and US$30 out of US$80.

Magistrate Ms Murwisi sentenced Coffee to 12 months in jail, five of which were suspended on condition of good behaviour and that he pays back the remaining US$50.

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