By- Top former model Mercy Mushaninga has been convicted and sentenced to perform 350 hours of unpaid community service at the Belvedere Vehicle Inspection Department.
Mushaninga duped five models of a combined US$10 200 in a botched Dubai modelling event
A Harare magistrate Ms Yeukai Dzuda also ordered Mushaninga to pay back the money.
Mushaninga (47), who is also founder of Zim Gossip Model Agency, was convicted of fraud after a full trial by Ms Dzuda. Ms Dzuda had initially slapped Mushaninga with a 28 months’ jail term.
Six months were suspended on condition of good behaviour, another 12 months were suspended on condition she pays back the five models she duped their US$10 200 by December 21, and the remaining six months were suspended on condition she performs 350 hours of community service at Belvedere Vehicle Inspectorate Department.
In mitigation before sentence, Mushaninga told the court that she was a single parent of two children, aged 25 and 17, and that she also takes care of her late brother’s children. But in aggravation, Prosecutor Mr Bornface Musvaire asked for a stiff penalty, adding that it was the duty of the court to protect victims.
“The accused has shown remorse. But it should be noted that the victims of the offence suffered a negative impact with some victims having to suffer in Dubai for the event that never took place,” he said.
“Some, who were still in Zimbabwe, had to prepare, go to the airport, only to face the embarrassment that they were not going to travel.
“It is of paramount importance to protect this type of victim. Society must have confidence in the courts and must know that the courts are there to protect them from such offenders.”
The State proved that in August last year, Mushaninga invited Daniel Tinei Muzondo, Isabel Temani, Wendy Kamwana, Shalom Ramunyenyiwa, and Wadzanai Chitate to participate in the 6th Miss Universal VIP World 2022 and the 16th Little Miss Universe Beauty Pageant scheduled for October 25 to 30 last year in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
They each paid up to US$2 900, totalling US$10 200. The complainants only discovered that they had been duped on October 24 on the scheduled date of travel. They made a police report leading to Mushaninga’s arrest.