FORMER Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri is living large in Malawi after selling off five upmarket properties in Harare in a space of five months, pocketing US$620 000 in the process.
Months after former President Mugabe was toppled by the military in November 2017, Chihuri fled the country and found refuge at his wife’s family home in Malawi where he is said to be nursing an undisclosed ailment.
Soon after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration in November 2017, Chihuri was sent on leave pending retirement. But unlike other former police chiefs such as Henry Mukurazhizha and Wiridzayi Nguruve who retired quietly, Chihuri immediately got bombarded by lawsuits including from the police force, and he panicked and made for the border.
While the public has largely forgotten about Chihuri, the courts have not. This week, the High Court is set to hear a high profile corruption case in which the State is seeking to recover more than US$32 million and forfeit numerous properties from Chihuri and his family.
Chihuri, who is believed to be in Malawi, is reported to have created a “criminal syndicated mafia” that siphoned funds for his personal, family and cronies’ benefit during the 25 years he was at the helm of the police force.
State prosecutors say Chihuri allegedly sold five properties sometime after he had already fled to Malawi, with his wife and wife’s brother acting as his representatives and with full power of attorney. were
Buyers paid a total of US$620 000 for the five properties which are part of a large property portfolio. Most of the properties are registered in the names of his family members. It is believed Chihuri sold the properties to fund a new life in Malawi.
Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi, has filed a fresh application seeking explanation on the sale of the properties.
The Herald reports that this Wednesday, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda will hear the matter in which Chihuri, through his legal counsel, are required to explain the sale of the properties. The properties were disposed of by Chihuri’s wife Isobel Halima Khan Chihuri and his children — Ethan and Samantha.
Hodzi said in court documents that a check with the Deeds Office showed the rushed disposal of assets by the Chihuri family some months after his dramatic escape. The five properties sold in a hurry but for huge cash are:
- A mansion in Gletwyn sitting on 30 acres of land valued at US$7 million. On July 17, 2018, Isobel Halima Khan Chihuri sold stand 1421 Gletwyn Township which was walled, gated with a borehole, water tank, tank stand and wooden cabin to Brian Chijaka for US$130 000. Her brother, Aitken Khan, had her power of attorney.
- Stand Number 1411 Gletwyn was also sold by True Hope Trust again with Khan standing in for his sister, but the value of the property is yet to be established.
- On March 21, 2018, Khan sold number 8 St Aubin’s Chisipite in Harare on behalf of owner Samantha Chihuri to Erinah Muchingami for US$365 000. The property, measuring 9 094 square metres has a four-bedroomed house with borehole and is gated and walled.
- On August 29, 2017, Khan sold another property in Strathaven, registered in the name of Nicole Tawonga Chihuri to Fairline Investments Pvt Ltd for US$125 000.
- Stand number 14453 Ibhalabhala Crescent, Selbourne in Bulawayo was transferred from the ex-police boss’ name into the name of one Tendai Madamombe on July 24, 2018. The buyer has since resold the property.
Furthermore, State prosecutors want the Chihuri family is expected to disclose how they acquired Lot 3 of Plot 4 of Juliasdale, Nyanga, a property worth US$3 860 000. The property is registered in the names of Samantha Chihuri, Ethan Augustine Chihuri, Nicole Tawonga Chihuri and Anashe Melamine Chihuri under Deed of Transfer 2208/12.
Among court cases raised Chihuri faces is a maintenance lawsuit in which a Bulawayo woman Sithulisiwe Mthimukulu, a police officer, is seeking an order to compel him to settle US$240 000 arrears for child support.
In Harare, Waterfalls businessman Bigboy Pachirera sued Chihuri for US$2 968 000 damages for losses he incurred to his business after the 65-year-old allegedly took forceful possession of his posh cars, construction vehicles and a house before changing ownership of the property into his name.
Pachirera has also filed criminal charges of kidnapping and robbery allegedly perpetrated against him under the instructions of the former police boss. This was after Chihuri instructed CID Joseph Nemaisa (now retired) and another CID operative based in Chitungwiza to detain Pachirera for days, claiming Pachirera had stolen from him when he was a manager of his companies.
Pachirera was only released after the courts intervened, but waited until Chihuri was out of power for him to sue.
Parliament of Zimbabwe also wants Chihuri to explain allegations of how he instructed his subordinates to seize a vault containing diamonds worth millions of dollars belonging to a company that was in partnership with the cops in a mining venture in the controversial Marange diamond fields.
It is being alleged that the law enforcement agents, under his instructions, forcibly took the gems.
Chihuri, his wife Isobel and children — Ethan and Samantha — are also listed as respondents together with five companies involved in the alleged siphoning of money from the Police Revolving Fund.