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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

Kembo Mohadi resigns amid sex scandal

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Kembo Mohadi sex scandal

Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned on Monday following local media reports he had engaged in improper conduct.

Kembo Mohadi, along with Constantino Chiwenga, was a deputy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2018, but without a political power base, he was not seen as a potential successor to the president.

In a rare move by a public official in Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi said he had taken the decision to step down “not as a matter of cowardice but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the President”.

I have been going through a soul-searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problem outside the governance chair,” he said in a statement released by the Ministry of Information.

Local online media service ZimLive has in the past two weeks carried reports that Kembo Mohadi had improper sexual liaisons with married women, including one of his subordinates.

Mohadi, 70, denied the accusations last week saying this was part of a political plot against him. On Monday he continued to deny the accusations saying he would seek legal recourse.

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Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

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Zimbabwe White Farmers

Zimbabwe agreed on Wednesday to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to Zimbabwe white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government to resettle black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 Zimbabwe white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State House offices in Harare showed white farmers would be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, as per the national constitution.

Details of how much money each farmer, or their descendants, given the time elapsed since the farms were seized, was likely to get were not yet clear, but the government has said it would prioritise the elderly when making the settlements.

Farmers would receive 50% of the compensation after a year and the balance within five years. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers unions and a foreign consortium that undertook valuations also penned the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,” said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers Union representing  Zimbabwe white farmers.

The land seizures were one of Mugabe’s signature policies that soured ties with the West. Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017 and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people. Mnangagwa said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West. Reuters

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Chinamasa calls U.S. ambassador ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

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Chinamasa

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Monday called the United States ambassador a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests that authorities say are meant to overthrow the government.

Without providing evidence, ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that U.S. ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Chinamasa’s comments echo the Robert Mugabe era, where the ZANU-PF government regularly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to dislodge it from power.

“He (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug.”

The U.S. embassy in Harare did not immediately respond to Chinamasa’s comments. Political tensions are rising fast in the southern African nation after activists called for demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Last month, the government summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd to interfere in U.S. affairs.

The U.S., Britain, E.U. embassies and the United Nations have all criticised Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Patrick Chinamasa urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price hike.“No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said. Organisers say this week’s protests will be peaceful. Reuters

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