A Mutorashanga man must perform 280 hours of community service after he was convicted of duping a Chegutu farmer of US$1 900 in a fraudulent fertiliser deal in which masqueraded as a soldier and son to senior army officer Brigadier-General Fidelis Mhonda.

Freedom Mhonda was initially jailed for 20 months when he appeared before magistrate Yeukai Dzuda charged with fraud and impersonation.

Eight months of the sentence were set aside on condition that he pays back the US$800 he owes Tawanda Mashirikidzo.

Another four months were suspended on condition of future good behaviour, and the remaining eight months were suspended on condition that Mhonda performs 280 hours of community service.

Prosecutor Heather Mookoto proved that on November 11 this year, Mhonda went to Plot 31 Exwick Farm in Chegutu where Mashirikidzo lives, falsely claimed to be an army officer, and told the farmer he had fertiliser he was trading on behalf of another lieutenant stationed at Defence House in Harare.

They then agreed to meet at Total Service Station at the corner of Samora Machel Avenue and Chinhoyi Street in Harare’s city centre.

They went to Defence House, where Mhonda claimed to be employed as a soldier and attached to Two Brigade.

Mhonda then said he had to talk to the trading lieutenant about the fertilisers and left Mashirikidzo at the reception.

Mhonda also lied to Mashirikidzo that he had delivered two loads of fertiliser to his father’s farm in Mazowe on that same day.

Mhonda returned after a few minutes and told Mashirikidzo that his boss wanted to leave the building at around 12.45pm.

After some time, Mhonda called Mashirikidzo, who had left the building, saying he was supposed to show some seriousness since the lieutenant could not keep on waiting, as there were other potential buyers of fertilisers.

Mashirikidzo rushed back to Defence House where he gave Mhonda US$1 900 for the fertilisers.

Mhonda then bought Mashirikidzo a plate of sadza and went upstairs in Defence House.

A few minutes later, Mhonda phoned Mashirikidzo asking whether he was still eating and told him that the voucher for the issuance of the fertiliser was ready.

After about 15 minutes, Mashirikidzo tried to call Mhonda but his phone was no longer reachable and he realised that Mhonda seemed to have vanished with money.

He made a police report leading to Mhonda’s arrest. Herald