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Clemence Marijeni built mansion in Zimbabwe while raking in thousands from fake marriages and benefits scam

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CLEMENCE MARIJENI

Clemence Marijeni has been locked up for 17 years after producing fake documents for two huge West Midlands fraud rackets.

The master forger behind one of the West Midlands’ largest sham marriage scams and a £720,000 maternity allowance fraud has been jailed for a total of 17 years.

Clemence Marijeni produced fake documents for the money-spinning rackets, which ran simultaneously for almost four years, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

The Zimbabwe-born 44-year-old father of two completed a law degree at Wolverhampton University after coming to the UK in 2006 and claimed to earn £30,000-a-year from his role in a shipping business.

But Clemence Marijeni pocketed more cash by selling forged paperwork to others involved in the two frauds while using eight bank accounts under false names to collect at least £55,000 from bogus maternity allowance claims for himself.

Meanwhile Clemence Marijeni and his Zimbabwean wife, Paula Chikuhwa, aged 37 – also part of the swindle – had a mansion built in their home country.

The gang made at least 165 fake maternity applications between May 2011 and August 2015, pocketing £450,000 but would have collected £720,000 if a considerable number had not been spotted as phoney by Department of Work and Pensions officials and rejected.

Henry Bazra, the alleged brains behind the operation, was interviewed by investigators but fled the country before he could be arrested and is now thought to be in Malawi.

Hundreds of bogus documents involving both this swindle and the sham marriage racket were found on a computer discovered at the home of Marijeni in Weston Road, Bilston, but the maternity allowance conspiracy was still under investigation when the other case went to trial.

Fake weddings

Clemence Marijeni was a key player in the bogus marriage fraud, creating fake histories in a bid to help at least 45 West Africans to stay in the country illegally through bogus weddings.

Czech and Slovakian people allegedly working and living in the UK were paid to tie the knot.

Marijeni was jailed for 10 years when convicted of the fraud following a trial in October 2016 and now a further seven years have been added to the term after he was found guilty of being ‘at the heart’ of the maternity allowance racket.

Mr Harpreet Sandhu, prosecuting, said: “He was more than just a facilitator of criminal activity – he was directly engaged with it.”

Personal details of almost 30 people working with one of the gang were used on fake benefit claims which were laundered through the bank accounts of others among the dozen people convicted of involvement in the fraud.

Bogus application forms were submitted with a forged maternity certificate confirming either a pregnancy or birth, apparently signed by a member of a GP practice with an official stamp meant to prove the document’s authenticity.

This included the personal identification number of the alleged signatory who knew nothing about it.

Bogus pay slips were sent with the form in a bid to trick officials into believing the applicant met the basic requirement of having worked for at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately preceding the birth.

‘Clever and devious’

Judge Barry Berlin said while passing the latest sentence on Marijeni: “You are a clever, devious, thoroughly dishonest man.

“This was a well organised and ruthless fraud against the public purse and you were one of the prime movers.”

Clemence Marijeni’s wife Chikuhwa was jailed for three years after using the name of a cousin to set up two bank accounts into which money from the scam was paid but made the mistake of settling her own rent with some of the cash.

The judge told her: “You built a house in Zimbabwe and I am quite satisfied that was part of the motivation for your involvement.

“You assisted your husband when you knew he was at the heart of the web.”

Another of those jailed was former Blackpool and Zimbabwean national team footballer Liberty Masunda from Mapleton Road, Hall Green – now a clinical engineer in Somerset – who received a three-year jail sentence for his involvement in the conspiracy.

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NEWS

Fortune Chasi replaces Gumbo as Energy Minister

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Fortune Chasi

President Mnangagwa has appointed Transport and Infrastructure Development Deputy Minister Fortune Chasi as the new minister of Energy and Power Development while Minister Gumbo has been appointed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring.

The President also appointed Engineer Mackenzie Ncube as the new chairman of the National Oil Infrastructure Company board.

In a statement last night, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda said the appointments were with immediate effect.

“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-In-Chief of the Defence Forces, Cde ED Mnangagwa has made the following senior appointments and re-assignments:

“Hon Minister Joram MacDonald Gumbo has been appointed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring.

“Hon Fortune Chasi, current Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development has been appointed Minister of Energy and Power Development,” read the statement.

Engineer Ncube replaced Mr Jemias Madzingira who was retired.

President Mnangagwa appointed Minister Gumbo as Cabinet Minister and Cde Fortune Chasi as deputy minister last year after winning the 2018 harmonised elections.

Prior to his appointment last year, Minister Gumbo had served as Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister in the previous Cabinet.

Engineer Ncube is a former Member of Parliament. The Chronicle

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BUSINESS

Zimbabwe set to rebase economy after adopting a new currency

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Zimbabwe Economy

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister announced the rebasing of the economy on Wednesday, following the adoption of a new currency earlier this year, and said growth would be slowed this year by a drought and a cyclone that hit eastern regions.

The Zimbabwe economy grew higher than expected in 2018, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told parliament.

The central bank scrapped the peg between its quasi-currency bond note and electronic dollars against the U.S dollar in February and merged them into a single transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.

Rebasing the Zimbabwe economy broadly means changing the reference points used to calculate the country’s gross domestic product.

The southern African nation rebased its economy last October boosting it by 40% to $25.8 billion and Ncube said the adoption of the RTGS$ required another rebasing exercise, which put the economy at RTGS$70.1 billion or $21 billion at the official exchange rate.

Ncube said the Zimbabwe economy had grown by 6.2 per cent in 2018 compared to an initial forecast of 3.1 per cent but he saw growth being throttled this year by “severe economic shocks”, including a drought that has wilted crops and a cyclone that hit western parts of Zimbabwe in March.

He said Zimbabwe had 876 000 tonnes of maize in strategic grain reserves, enough to feed the country for seven months.

Ncube said the national treasury’s austerity measures had meant a budget surplus of RTGS$443 million was recorded in the first quarter and added that the target of a budget deficit of 5% of GDP would be achieved this year. Reuters

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NEWS

Early camp for Zimbabwe Warriors

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Zimbabwe Warriors 2019

Zimbabwe Warriors will go in camp early as they prepare for their AFCON opening match against the hosts Egypt on June 21.

Sunday Chidzambwa is to split the 34-man squad if there are to reach the COSAFA finals.

Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare says the team will flight straight from Nigeria to Egypt after their friendly game on the 8th.

“We are going to COSAFA and we are taking 34 players, we are going to play two games and then the other 18 players will then go to Nigeria to play on the 8th.

“18 players will leave for Nigeria on the 5th and play on the 8th, the other five players will then follow to make up the 23 players for the AFCON tournament.,” he said.

Mpandare says that the final 23 will be selected on merit.

“Selection will be based on the performance during the COSAFA tournament and the coaches will then select the final 23 from there.

“To us the COSAFA tournament is more like training games for us, so we actually going to camp in Durban and then the two games that we will be playing, will be like training games to us.

“Which I think will add value. We have played with the so-called inferior teams and it helps us in a certain way. But the big game is coming on the 8th, we might even have another friendly which a team still yet to confirm,” he said.

Zimbabwe won last year’s COSAFA and Mpandare says it’s a platform for them to assess and prepare for AFCON.

“But at the end of the day, we need those games because even the last time in 2018 when we were preparing for the AFCON qualifiers, it helps us in a big way.

“We won the COSAFA tournament with the same players that then participated in the AFCON qualifiers. So I think in as much as most teams are sending weak teams it will give us the competitive edge that we think we need,” he said.

Goalkeepers
George Chigova (Polokwane City), Edmore Sibanda (Witbank United), Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka), Talbert Shumba (Chapungu)

Defenders
Dennis Dauda (Lusaka Dynamos), Lawrence Mhlanga (FC Platinum), Jimmy Dzingai (Power Dynamos), Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars), Alec Mudimu (CEFN Druids), Teenage Hadebe (Kaizer Chiefs), Divine Lunga (Golden Arrows), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Tendai Darikwa (Nottingham Forest)

Midfielders
Danny Phiri(Golden Arrows), Marshall Munetsi (Orlando Pirates), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge), Butholezwe Ncube (Amazulu), Tafadzwa Kutinyu (Azam), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Kudakwashe Mahachi (Orlando Pirates), Tafadzwa Rusike (Zanaco), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Talent Chawapihwa (Amazulu), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah), Knowledge Musona (RSC Anderlecht), Thabani Kamusoko (Young Africans SC), Rodwell Chinyengetere (Baroka FC)

Strikers
Nyasha Mushekwi (Dalian Yifang), Evans Rusike (Supersport United), Walter Musona (Polokwane City), Tinotenda Kadewere (Le Havre), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Admiral Muskwe (Leicester City)H-Metro

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