By Dr Masimba Mavaza| As pressure from Zimbabwe makes people do wonders, a Zimbabwean family man was sentenced 17 years in prison in the UK for benefit fraud and doing fake marriages. John Bilston a crime reporter reported that Clemence Marijeni has been locked up for 17 years after producing fake documents for two huge West Midlands United Kingdom fraud rackets.
Most Zimbabweans are under pressure to please people at home and as a result go on to do whatever brings them money to meet the great expectations from Zimbabwe. The social pressure associated with diaspora has created many jails for the Zimbabweans who are forced to do whatever possible to make money. Unlike Marijeni who was caught most have survived and sipped through the police radder. It is those who are not caught who make it difficult for others who end up doing anything to match their friends and avoid the ridicule from home.
Another of those jailed was former Blackpool and Zimbabwean national team footballer Liberty Masunda from Mapleton Road, Hall Green – now a clinical engineer in Somerset – who received a three-year jail sentence for his involvement in the conspiracy. Liberty Masunda who was a prolific player in Zimbabwe soccer circles exchanged the boots for prison gab after the benefit temptation proved very strong. Masunda made over four hundred thousand pounds from the scam before the long hand of the law caught up with him.
Clemence Marijeni, , and his wife started building a mansion in Zimbabwe but have both been jailed The master forger behind one of the West Midlands’ largest sham marriage scams and a £720,000 maternity allowance fraud has been jailed for a total of 17 years.
Clemence Marijeni produced fake documents for the money-spinning rackets, which ran simultaneously for almost four years, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
The Zimbabwe-born 44-year-old father of two completed a law degree at Wolverhampton University after coming to the UK in 2006 and claimed to earn £30,000-a-year from his role in a shipping business.
But the graphics expert pocketed more cash by selling forged paperwork to others involved in the two frauds while using eight bank accounts under false names to collect at least £55,000 from bogus maternity allowance claims for him.
Meanwhile he and his Zimbabwean wife, Poula Chikuhwa, aged 37 – also part of the swindle had a mansion built in Zimbabwe from the ill-gotten funds.
The gang made at least 165 fake maternity applications between May 2011 and August 2015, pocketing £450,000 but would have collected £720,000 if a considerable number had not been spotted as phony by Department of Work and Pensions officials and rejected.
Henry Bazra, the alleged brains behind the operation, was interviewed by investigators but fled the country before he could be arrested and is now thought to be in Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of bogus documents involving both this swindle and the sham marriage racket were found on a computer discovered at the home of Marijeni in Weston Road, Bilston, but the maternity allowance conspiracy was still under investigation when the other case went to trial.
Marijeni was a key player in the bogus marriage fraud, creating fake histories in a bid to help at least 45 West Africans to stay in the country illegally through bogus weddings. Czech and Slovakian people allegedly working and living in the UK were paid to tie the knot. This is because any person from the EU is allowed to stay in the UK so their partners will be allowed too. The Zimbabwean Whizz kid will them take advantage of the louse system and exploit it to his pleasure and his pocket’s satisfaction.
He was jailed for 10 years when convicted of the fraud following a trial in October 2016 and now a further seven years have been added to the term after he was found guilty of being ‘at the heart’ of the maternity allowance racket.
Mr Harpreet Sandhu, prosecuting, said: “He was more than just a facilitator of criminal activity – he was directly engaged with it.”
Personal details of almost 30 people working with one of the gang were used on fake benefit claims which were laundered through the bank accounts of others among the dozen people convicted of involvement in the fraud.
Bogus application forms were submitted with a forged maternity certificate confirming either a pregnancy or birth, apparently signed by a member of a GP practice with an official stamp meant to prove the document’s authenticity.
This included the personal identification number of the alleged signatory who knew nothing about it.
Bogus pay slips were sent with the form in a bid to trick officials into believing the applicant met the basic requirement of having worked for at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately preceding the birth.
Judge Barry Berlin said while passing the latest sentence on Marijeni: “You are a clever, devious, thoroughly dishonest man.
“This was a well organised and ruthless fraud against the public purse and you were one of the prime movers.”
The defendant’s wife Chikuhwa was jailed for three years after using the name of a cousin to set up two bank accounts into which money from the scam was paid but made the mistake of settling her own rent with some of the cash.
The judge told her: “You built a house in Zimbabwe and I am quite satisfied that was part of the motivation for your involvement.
“You assisted your husband when you knew he was at the heart of the web.”
This case has embarrassed the Zimbabwean community in the UK who are now viewed as criminals. It is true that most Zimbabweans are very hard working and are not involved in the criminal activities.