Maid, gardener up for stealing $150k from employer

HARARE - A housemaid and a gardener allegedly stole $150 000 in cash from their employer and used the stolen cash to buy seven residential properties and seven vehicles, a Harare court has heard.

The court heard that Graham Awudi – who used to keep up to $20 000 in cash in a drawer in the bedroom of his Borrowdale Brooke home – lost the money to his housemaid, Granny Chiriseri, 34, and the gardener Freeman Gadzamoyo, 32.

After the theft, Gadzamoyo took in Chiriseri as his second wife.

A heavily pregnant Chiriseri and her husband tried in vain to be remanded out of custody when they appeared before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande last week.

But Sande opposed bail saying they were a flight risk and there was real possiblity they could flee the court’s jurisdiction.

It is the states’ case that Chiriseri had access to Awudi’s bedroom at all material times. She was often left in charge of the house during Awudi’s numerous business trips outside the country.

Upon return, Awudi missed money ranging from $5000 to $20 000 in cash from his house.

On one occasion in May 2015 when he left Chiriseri at home, Graham and his wife Irene Awudi left cash amounting to $20 000 in a drawer inside their bedroom heading to their farm.

The court heard that on another occasion the couple lost $15 000 which was left in a drawer in their bedroom.

After realizing that the theft was continuing, Graham then locked his money inside the safe but he again continued to lose money from the safe. 

The court heard that investigations into the crime during the period 2014 to August 2017 revealed the Chirisei and Gadzamoyo acquired several stands and built houses in Chivhu, Dema, Mahusekwa and Guruve using proceeds of the crime.

Their other property at Manyame Park in Chitungwiza is still at ground level. The properties are registered in the name of Chiriseri and others in Gadzamoyo’s name.

The two are said to have also purchased seven vehicles including three Kombis, two Toyota Corolla sedans, a green Toyota Runx and a silver Toyota Runx which were registered in both their names as well as their relatives.

The two reportedly failed to give a satisfactory account of how they earned the money to acquire the properties on their meagre wages.

Chiriseri and Gadzamoyo's defense counsel Dumisani Mthombeni had insisted that his clients be granted bail, claiming the complainant, Awudi, had bribed police officers to “brutally and savagely assault the accused so that they accept the accusations that were being brought against them.”

“They can barely stand and need medical treatment. The two accused will plead not guilty,” Mthombeni argued.

The state said they would investigate the alleged conduct of the police and provide a report on the next remand date on  December 21.