Italian tycoon Tony Sarpo claims loss of $52,500 in motorbike theft case


HARARE – Italian tycoon Tony Renato Sarpo has accused two former associates of Matebeleland Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. of theft, resulting in a loss of $52,500. Sarpo, who previously co-directed Matebeleland Engineering, claims that Wayne Williams and Regis Jabulani Maburutse, current directors of the company, disposed of 35 unassembled motorbikes that were legally his property.

Italian tycoon Tony Sarpo accuses former directors of $52,500 motorbike theft
Image: ZimSphere/File Photo

Williams and Maburutse were brought before the Harare Magistrates Court facing charges of theft of trust property. 

According to Prosecutor Rufaro Chonzi, the motorbikes were imported by Sarpo from China in 2012 and stored at his farm warehouse in Chiredzi. After a fallout in 2016, Williams allegedly removed Sarpo from the company's directorship and replaced him with Brendon David Williams and Maburutse.

In 2017, Williams accused Sarpo of stealing the motorbikes, prompting a police investigation under ZRP Rhodesville police station CR52/02/17 and CID DR 31/02/17. 

Sarpo was arrested but later released on bail. The motorbikes were seized by the police as evidence but were handed over to Matebeleland Engineering's Loss Control Manager, Solomon Mateta, due to storage constraints.

Mateta stored the motorbikes in the company's Chiredzi warehouse and handed the keys to Joel Madzikanda, the sales representative responsible for the Chiredzi branch. 

Before the trial commenced, Williams and Maburutse allegedly disposed of the motorbikes, despite knowing they were exhibits in the pending case.

The motorbikes were reportedly sold or donated to various individuals, including former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, former President Robert Mugabe, and other notable figures. Maburutse allegedly donated ten motorbikes during his parliamentary campaign in Chirumanzu constituency.

"Two motorbikes were sold to Peace Security, six were donated to former VP Mpoko, four donated to former President R.G. Mugabe, one given to Winston Chitando the former Minister of Mines, one given to Freddy Moyo of Fidelity Printers, one sold to Russell in Norton, one donated to Drillbit Mines in Mazowe, one sold to Mangenje in Chirumanzu, one sold to Mushaike in Chirumanzu, one sold to Mageja Tamuka in Chirumanzu," the court papers read. 

Mateta later gathered evidence proving Sarpo's legal ownership of the motorbikes and applied for their release through the Magistrate's court. 

However, upon discovering the motorbikes had been disposed of, Mateta reported the matter to Chiredzi police, who opened a new case reference Chiredzi CR.76/02/23, later transferred to CID Chiredzi DR 11/02/23. The report was eventually closed as "false on enquiry."

In 2023, the court acquitted Sarpo of theft of trust property charges, ruling that the motorbikes should be returned to him. 

However, due to their prior disposal by Williams and Maburutse, Sarpo's efforts to recover his property were unsuccessful, resulting in a financial loss of $52,500.

Magistrate Dennis Mangosi granted Williams and Maburutse $100 bail, and told them to come back to court on 31 July for their routine remand. 

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