HARARE – Two Chinese nationals and a Congolese cleric will spend the weekend behind bars after they were locked up on allegations of kidnapping another foreigner before demanding a ransom of US$120,000 two days ago.

The three are Guo Zairen, 34, Wango Gao, 40, and Charles Matondo, Christ Faith Ministries founder aged 40.

Matondo once caused a stir in 2019 after he said there were no true prophets in Zimbabwe except himself.

He was once locked up for fabricating car crashes in order to claim thousands of pounds from insurance companies in the UK.

The three are jointly charged with locals who include Primrose Miga, 34, a self-styled prophetess who is reportedly cohabitating with Matondo whose wife is abroad.

Other suspects are Tonderai Naison Kaja, 34, Charles Notice, 34, Christopher Chirombe, 34, O’brien Miti, 31, Simbarashe Kumba, 24, Carlington Conselia, 28 and Oswell Tinotenda Tsikai, aged 29.

The 11 appeared before Harare magistrate Dennis Mangosi who rolled over the matter to Monday for bail ruling.

The complainant in this matter is one Cheng Song, also a Chinese national.

Prosecuting, Anesu Chirenje alleged that on April 17 this year, the suspects hatched a plan to kidnap the complainant and demand for a ransom.

Acting in common purpose with one Tendai Notice who is still at large, they went to a Chinese Restaurant in Belgravia driving in a white Toyota Fortuner and a white Toyota Beta which was being driven by Notice.

The complainant, Song, was having his lunch with his friend Tu Muqing.

It is further that alleged Zairen and Gao showed Kaja, Chirombe and Miti the complainant.

The trio allegedly confronted Song and introduced themselves as police officers indicating he was under arrest.

Prosecutors allege that they did not notify him of his offence.

It is alleged that they handcuffed him and forced him into their Toyota Belta and drove away in their getaway vehicles leaving Tu Muqing behind.

“They took the complainant to house number 1 Montes Drive, Mandara, Harare where Miga, Matondo, Kumba, Konselia and Tsikai were waiting for them.

“Tu Muqing then phoned and informed the complainant’s cousin sister Wang Yanan that the complainant had been arrested by police officers,” reads court papers.

It is alleged that Song sent his google maps location to Wang Yanan through a Chinese WeChat internet platform seeking assistance from her.

The court heard Wang Yanan contacted Victor Phiri, a Superintended in the Zimbabwe Republic Police and sought assistance to be escorted to the said police station.

Phiri then met with Wang Yanan and on checking the sent google maps location, he discovered that it was instead showing a place in a bushy area adjacent to Chikurubi Maximum Prison and that there were not any police stations close by.

At that same moment, Wang Yanan received a phone call on her WeChat platform from the complainant who told her that he was being held hostage by the accused persons and that they were prohibiting him from using ordinary voice calls or WhatsApp platform.

“He further told her that the accused persons were demanding a ransom of US$120,000 which was to be delivered to them promptly to avoid the complainant being harmed by them and him being deported afterwards,” prosecutors said.

After about 15 minutes, the accused used the complainant’s cell phone and contacted Wang Yanan and ordered her to drive to the google maps location.

Phiri alerted CID Homicide, Harare about the kidnapping and extortion and they swiftly reacted and waylaid for the accused person at the given google maps location.

The court further heard Notice, Chirombe, Konselia and Tsikai came driving in a Toyota Fortuner and ordered Wang Yanan to follow their vehicle and they drove off at high speed.

Police detectives made a follow up on the accused’ vehicle and drove abreast their vehicle along Arcturus Road, Greendale and identified themselves as police detectives at the same time ordering them to pullover.

The suspects instead sped off forcing detectives to fire warning shots but still they continued.

Police officers then fired at the vehicle which led to the driver losing control and fell into a ditch.

The four were subsequently arrested and led police detectives to Matondo’s house in Mandara where they found the complainant being guarded by Miga, Matondo, Kaja, Miti and Kumba before they rescued him.

The state opposed bail, submitting that the 11 were a flight risk since the first group tried to flee from the police and only got arrested after their car was involved in an accident.

However, during bail application, the suspects who were represented by their lawyer Oliver Marwa denied the allegations insisting that they never demanded a ransom from Song.

They said Song was a fraudster who had conned Zairen and Gao of their hard-earned US$120,000.

Marwa also said it was the conduct of the police which caused his clients to flee because it was during the night and the officers were not in their uniform to be easily identified.

“This is not ordinary kidnapping. It is a kidnapping which has a story behind,” said Marwa.

“Zairen and Gao are victims of the complainant who defrauded them of over US$100,000.

“Song pleaded with them not to report to the police but he went on to lie to the police that he was being extorted and went on to mention the amount being referred to as ransom,” he said.

The lawyer also said both parties were members of Matondo’s church, so they went to his house to seek his help for them to reach common ground amicably but Song “lied, escalated the matter and called police telling them that he was being extorted and a reaction team from the CID homicide should be dispatched to help him.”

Marwa said the police arrested other people who were at Matondo’s house who had nothing to do with what was going on between the Chinese.