By-A Masvingo-based bishop has escaped with money he duped over 30 people in a bogus cannabis farming deal.
Bishop Trust Sangweni of the Evangelical Apostolic Christian Mission Church formed a cannabis farming group, which should have been operational by now.
One of the bishop’s victims, Peki Wushe, told H-Metro that the bishop had disappeared to South Africa.
“I was recommended to join the group, called Archmedicinal Private Limited, by a friend who once attended his church in December 2021.
“Upon joining, we were required to pay US$250 to cater for paperwork and errands.
“He would often come to Harare claiming he wanted to fix the group’s paperwork, and we would pay logistics fees for all his trips,” she said.
Wushe said he would tell them the money required was to pay for environmental impact assessment, Environmental Management Agency, land and the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency.
“I paid close to US$1 600. He is a sweet talker, and no one thought we would be scammed until today.
“At one time, we sponsored his trip to Cape Town as he convinced us that he was looking for investors.
“In July this year, he said the investors were in Zimbabwe and he needed more money to finish paperwork so that we would not look confused,” she said.
Wushe said she became suspicious when she returned to Zimbabwe from Dubai in August and the bishop failed to present evidence that there was some progress.
“He had promised to hold the ground breaking ceremony in September, and we prepared our outfits for the day.
“He assured us that everything was in order and unresolved matters were being worked on.
“Those who asked a lot of questions about the project were called hypocrites. In October, the group went silent,” she said.
Wushe said she decided to check with the authorities.
“I found out that the company was indeed registered in July this year.
“He was in the board of directors, together with his wife Silibaziso Zhou and Nyika Sangweni, his brother.
“I went to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement and they told me that they were not aware of the group.
“When I informed other members of the group, he fled to South Africa,” she said.
Another group member, who requested anonymity, said they were fooled into believing he was genuine.
“No one thought he would rob us of our money since he is a bishop.
“We also contributed together with some of his church members, and thought we had managed to grab a life changing deal,” he said.
H-Metro spoke to Bishop Sangweni’s wife, Silibaziso, who distanced herself from the farming group.
“Sangweni went to South Africa last month. People are always coming to me claiming that they were duped by my husband.
“I do not know why they are bothering me. I knew there was a cannabis group he talked about, but I did not know I was one of the directors.
“Mufonerei iye panumber yake. I can send you his WhatsApp number; he has been communicating with some members of the group,” she said
However, efforts to reach Bishop Sangweni were fruitless.
The matter has been reported to the police under case number IR 101503. H Metro