Harare businessman, Van Blerk up for fraud

Harare Businessman, Michael Van Blerk has been hauled before court facing fresh fraud charges after allegedly tendering a fake affidavit with the Surveyor Generals Office, actions which are said to have prejudiced his partner.

Blerk appeared before Harare Magistrate Barbra Mateko and was released on $2 000 bail coupled with stringent reporting conditions. He was also asked to surrender his Borrowdale property deeds as surety that he would stand trial.

The businessman who is being represented by Innocent Chingarande also stands accused of defrauding Harare City Council (HCC) of $1,5 million in a property development deal.

The State led by Zivanai Macharaga alleges that during the period extending from June 15 2016 and September 23 the same year, the complainant in this matter, George Katsimberis entered into three joint venture agreements with Kenneth Raydon Sharpe and formed three companies namely Borrowdale Ecofriendly Estates, Gunhill Ecofriendly Estate and Pokugara Ecofriendly Estates.

The purpose of the joint venture agreement was to form a joint venture residential property company that owns and rents developed houses and flats, the court heard.

Pokugara was allegedly formed by two parties, the first being Kilimanjaro, Porcupine and Hamter Trust represented Kenneth Radon Sharpe while the second being Coolfitch Investments by Katsimbiris and the shareholding structure was 50 percent for each party.

The first party’s obligation was to contribute 13 stands totaling 25 931 square meters at an agreed value US $34,08 per square meter giving a total land value of US$883 728,48 which was subject to be further subdivided into smaller cluster stands for the joint venture company.

The second party’s obligation was to avail funds equivalent to 13 stands availed by the first party. The second party was to raise the same amount and apply it in the building of the hoses for the joint venture.

The court heard that the second party had framed diagrams approved by the Surveyor General’s Office. He also made diagrams which included sewer and water reticulation as well as constructing a single storey show house on one of the 21 cluster stands. The framed diagrams were in possession of Katsimberis for safekeeping and the City of Harare had reportedly approved them.

A dispute reportedly arose prompting the first party to initiate the cancellation of the joint venture agreement and in pursuance of this Blerk who was the Managing director of Pokugara and was working in connivance with Sharpe and with knowledge that the original framed diagrams were being held by Katsimberis wrote and signed an affidavit in which he lied to the surveyor General that the original copies had been lost.

On October 8 last year, Blerk allegedly went to the Surveyor General’s Office and tendered the affidavit accompanied by a letter requesting the cancellation of the framed diagrams .

The framed diagrams were then cancelled prejudicing Katsimberis, the court heard.