A HARARE businesswoman, who had been convicted of allegedly defrauding a South Africa-based businessman of $20 000 in a failed business deal, was on Thursday acquitted by the High Court, while the latter is being sought by the police.
Patience Chivasa was sometime last year convicted and sentenced to pay a $600 fine or six months in prison for defrauding Dharmesh Nagar.
In addition, she was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, which was wholly suspended on condition she restituted Nagar the $20 000.
However, through her lawyer, Admire Rubaya, she filed an appeal at the High Court challenging both conviction and sentence and the matter was heard by Justices Charles Hungwe and Edith Mushore.
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"It was the word of the appellant (Chivasa) against that of Dharmesh Nagar. Having assessed the two conflicting versions of the appellant and Nagar, the court did not show why it rejected the appellant's explanation," he said.
"There is so much doubt about the guilt of the appellant if it is appreciated that if the money had been truly released by the company, Media Revolutions, there ought to have been proper documentation, not only about its release, but also about the purpose thereafter, as well as security for its release. The failure by the complainant (Nagar) to produce such documentation, especially given the high value of the money, tends to weaken the State case."
After hearing submissions by both the State and the defence, the judges ruled Chivasa was wrongly convicted and ought to have been acquitted.
"The appeal be and is hereby allowed. The conviction is set aside and sentence quashed," Justice Hungwe said.
A month ago, Nagar obtained a default judgement against Chivasa for the payment of over $22 000, but the latter filed an urgent chamber application for rescission of judgment, which application was dismissed and the matter referred to a normal roll.
Meanwhile, the business impasse between the two former partners took a new twist last month when Chivasa reported Nagar to the police for allegedly tampering with an e-mail that led to her arrest. She made two reports, one for insulting her over the phone under RRB 2803100 and another for forgery under RRB 2803101.
Nagar, who is the director of Sebenzisa Marketing and Media Communications trading as Media Revolutions, is alleged to have tampered with Chivasa's e-mail and presented the same to police leading to her conviction.