A former clerk with Advance Wholesalers in Bulawayo was ordered to repay his former employers $75 325.26 which he defrauded the company during his Five-year employment.
Judge Muchechetere, who presided over the case also ordered the former clerk, Revijio Chamunorwa, to pay the court costs because his case was so weak that he should not have dragged the parties to court.
Advance Wholesalers had initially claimed $254 000 but the amount was reduced to just over $75 000 because the company has been able to recover the bulk of the money.
Agreed facts were that between February 1983 and February 1987 goods valued at $487 836.86 fraudulently disappeared from Advance Wholesalers. The wholesalers said Chamunorwa who was employed as a posting and reconciliation clerk, was responsible.
The fraud was only discovered after Chamunorwa had left the company when one of the credit customers who was said to owe Advance Wholesalers money proved that he had paid his bills.
The customer produced an invoice and a receipt to prove he had paid the amount he was reported to be owing but the company could find no records of the payment in its books.
This led to investigations which revealed that the company had lost nearly half a million dollars through falsifications. Through careful piecing together of documents Advance Wholesalers managed to trace most of the customers who had benefitted from the falsifications.
When they were confronted most of the customers paid and others were taken to court but this still left an amount of $75 325.26 unaccounted for.
Advance Wholesalers managing director, Eugene Gordon, said the falsifications only occurred when Chamunorwa was present. During his five year period of employment, Gordon said, Chamunorwa always took his leave in the middle of the month and made sure he was back at work at the end of the month to do reconciliations and compiling invoices.
Chamunorwa, he said, went on leave from July 4 to July 23, 1983, September 3 to September 22, 19984, September 9 to September 28, 1985 and August 4 to August 21, 1986.
Gordon also said Chamunorwa’s style of living was evidence that he benefited from the falsifications. With a salary of $650 a month Chamunorwa had two cars, a house in Matsheumhlope that was paid up and luxurious furniture.
His children went to a private school. He was never short of money, lending some to most of his co-workers.
“Generally he lived a flamboyant lifestyle and rubbed shoulders with important politicians -he was a ZANU-PF party official,” the court was told.
Gordon also said Chamunorwa was friendly to most of those who benefitted and even became a partner in business with one of the customers.
In 1987, however, Chamunorwa became lax in his work and when Gordon warned him to improve his performance or else his job would no longer be secure, Chamunorwa resigned, Gordon said.
Chamunorwa said he was not responsible for the disappearance of the money and said it was his association with ZANU-PF that led to disagreement between him and his employer.
He said Gordon accused him of being a sell-out because he belonged to ZANU-PF. It was this bad blood between them that led Gordon to take him to court.
He said no missing invoices had ever been found during his period of employment nor had he ever been caught with a missing invoice. While he was still employed none of the customers had come forward to testify that they had given him any money for falsifying the documents.
Chamunorwa also said he was not friendly to any of the customers as most of them were at that time members of PF-ZAPU while he was a member of ZANU-PF. There was therefore little contact between them except on business.