Land Baron Suspect Arrested Over Fraud
28 March 2024
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In a disheartening turn of events, a suspected land baron, Webster Ngwaru, stands accused of orchestrating a fraudulent scheme that left two property buyers out of pocket to the tune of US$21,000. The alleged fraudster was remanded to April 23 on a US$250 bail by Harare Magistrate Mrs. Apollonia Marutya, facing two counts of fraud, as the legal proceedings begin to unfold against him.

The accusations detail a deceptive plot where Ngwaru, leveraging the promise of land ownership, allegedly entangled his victims in fraudulent transactions that ultimately led to substantial financial losses. In 2019, Ngwaru reportedly advertised residential stands for sale situated between Mabvuku in eastern Harare and Zimre Park in Ruwa, catching the attention of Ms. Tendai Chinhema, who was residing in Australia at the time.

Enticed by the advertisement, Ms. Chinhema purchased an 800-square-meter stand valued at US$6,500, completing her payments in installments by November 2019. She further acquired a second stand for US$7,000, with both pieces of land registered in her name, and receipts provided as proof of transaction.

However, the dream of land ownership quickly crumbled when Harare City Council officials informed Ms. Chinhema that the land never belonged to Ngwaru and was, in fact, not up for sale. In a distressing revelation, it was found that structures on other stands developed in the area had been demolished, signaling a broader issue with the land’s legitimacy.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, Ms. Chinhema sought a refund from Ngwaru, leading to an agreement where she would receive US$10,000 and the balance in installments. Unfortunately, Ngwaru failed to uphold his end of the deal, resulting in a total loss of US$15,750 for Ms. Chinhema.

In a separate count of alleged fraud, Ngwaru is accused of deceiving Ms. Ollyn Rudo Kanyenze, 58, through the sale of stands in Crowhill Estate, Borrowdale, Harare, in January of the current year. After paying an administration fee and part of the purchase price totaling US$5,350, Ms. Kanyenze discovered no developments on the land and was eventually informed by Ngwaru that she would be refunded after 90 days. However, the promised refund never materialized, and Ngwaru became evasive, prompting Ms. Kanyenze to report the matter to the police.

These allegations have cast a shadow over the real estate sector in Harare, exposing the vulnerabilities and risks faced by prospective property buyers. As the legal proceedings against Webster Ngwaru proceed, the victims are left to grapple with the financial and emotional toll of their dealings with the suspected land baron, highlighting the need for vigilance and thorough vetting in property transactions.