Mphoko's daughter-in-law up for extortion

BULAWAYO - Former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko’s daughter-in-law is in trouble after she allegedly ordered 15 Choppies Supermarket managers here to unlawfully give her $30 000 cash.

This was after Nomagugu Mphoko, 36, allegedly threatened the managers with either dismissal or deportation of Choppies workers of Indian origin who attempted to defy her directive.

Nomagugu, who was initially jointly charged with her husband Siqokoqela Mphoko, appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Sithembiso Ndlovu facing 49 counts of extortion.

The Botswana-based and JSE-listed fast-expanding retail chain Choppies, which operates 29 outlets in Zimbabwe, is owned by former VP Mphoko, with his son Siqokoqela as its local director.

Nomagugu, who is being represented by Welshman Ncube of Mathonsi Law Chambers, was remanded out of custody to September 3 on $200 bail.

The cash, which was unlawfully collected by Nomagugu from the 15 Choppies shops on different occasions amounts to $30 230.

According to the State papers, sometime in June this year, Nanavac Investments, trading as Choppies Zimbabwe, issued a directive to all its supermarket managers against giving out cash realised from sales to individuals whose arrangement is to replace the equivalent through swiping at point of sale machines.

Prosecutor Nkathazo Dlodlo told the court that between June 13 and 29 this year, Nomagugu went to the complainants, some of whom are Indian nationals, and demanded cash during which she also threatened to either get them fired or deported if they refused to comply.

The court heard that Nomagugu would then swipe the equivalent of the money received using different bank cards.

“Upon being advised of the directive against such transactions, the accused would threaten the shop managers with loss of employment and deportation from Zimbabwe.

“She would also tell the complainants that her husband is the owner of the company..,” read the court papers.

As a result of the alleged threats, the complainants acceded to Nomagugu’s demands, the court heard.

Further reads the court papers: “The accused person derived the advantage of easily accessing cash which is hard to come by, their conduct resulted in loss for Nanavac Investments in that being a retail business, the company’s outlets rely heavily on cash to pay critical suppliers, including arranging for foreign payments with local banks.”

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