DRIVING from Harare central business district southwards along Simon Mazorodze Road the highway intersects Harare Drive around the traffic circle. At the roundabout if ones turns right and heads west before exiting immediately left, they get into Willow Road in New Ardbernie in the capital.
Vehicles on the road meander along as drivers snake around potholes, a common feature in Harare and all over Zimbabwe, reflecting the state of the nation, while slow moving haulage trucks make the 500 metre-stretch ahead hardly passable.
As one approaches the sharp left turn at the narrow bridge they see a huge property fortified by an unpainted precast wall which resembles a truck inn on the backwater fringes of the city’s sleepy industrial site.
Welcome to No. 1558 Willow Rd, New Ardbernie, Southerton, Harare, Zimbabwe: the headquarters of Piko Trading Group.
That is the head office of the late energetic, flamboyant and controversial young entrepreneur Genius Kadungure, popularly known as Ginimbi, who died last Sunday in a horrific Rolls-Royce crash in Borrowdale.
Ginimbi had many supercars; including a Bentley, Range Rover, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls-Royce Ghost and Rolls-Royce Wraith, reduced to ashes in the accident; all worth an estimated US$5 million.
In January, Ginimbi was order to pay US$58 655 duty on top of another US$81 469 for his then recently imported Bentley Continental GT model.
Ginimbi did not have the money to pay that. To raise money for duty, Ginimbi had to sell a Range Rover to prominent Harare gold dealer Pedzisayi Scott Sakupwanya.
In an interview, Sakupwanya confirmed the deal, but denied that he also funded Ginimbi’s last party that he held for his friend Michelle Amuli, popularly known as Mimi Moana, who also died in the horrific Rolls-Royce crash, at Dreams nightclub in Harare.
“Ginimbi did not borrow money from me for the party. What happened is that sometime when he wanted money to pay duty for one of his cars, he approached me selling his Range Rover and I bought it for US$125 000 cash. That is the only deal I did with him,” Sakupwanya said.
“The talk that I’m funding his funeral is a lie. I have not contributed even a cent to his funeral.”
Ginimbi’s posh rides made him easily the only Zimbabwean with such a collection of supercars. Besides, Ginimbi also had a sprawling mansion in Domboshava which also played host to some of his erotic pool and usually all-white parties. He will be buried at the mansion tomorrow. His family said he told them the house must be turned into a hotel or museum.
The mystery is not only about his ghostly companies or being buried at his house. His relatives and friends also said he indicated his designer clothes and expensive clothing labels must be burnt, while his cars should be sold and the money donated to charity.
This suggested he did not want anyone to inherit his wealth. That triggered speculation of cultism, which some of his family members and friends were at pains to dismiss.
Ginimbi’s friends even tried to hire journalists to reverse the narrative and turn the tide of cultism stories in a bid to “protect his legacy” and themselves from the growing story that they led lives of bizarre rituals for money.
Scandalmongers raved that Ginimbi and his social circle was cultist – defined by unusual religious and spiritual beliefs. This was not helped by the fact that Ginimbi had a premonition of his imminent death, according to his family members who variously confirmed that of late he was always talking about his looming demise and what should happen thereafter.
Even his friend Moana had a premonition of her death. She expressed it in a video in which she sounded like a tortured soul.
Although coincidence and causality maybe different, this twist of fate generated unquenchable public curiosity and a flurry of conspiracy theories and tales.
Ginimbi’s other two friends also died in the crash; Limumba Karim, wanted in his country Malawi over the cashgate scandal involving a massive cash heist by high-profile figures, and Alichia Adams, a Mozambican, who described herself as a model, entrepreneur and brand strategist.
The NewsHawks went out to check Ginimbi’s business empire to reconcile his enterprises against his oppulent lifestyle. The probe drew a blank insofar as explaining Ginimbi’s source of wealth proved cryptic like his story in life and death. Too many shades of grey.
Visiting Ginimbi’s business premises fuels rather than allays the enigma. Checking their HQ in Harare, supposedly the business hub under which Piko Trading houses a group of companies – Pioneer Gases, City Centre Freight, Rivonia Gases (South Africa) and Quick Gases (Botswana) – deepens the mystery.
Judging by his lifestyle, his business minted money. It was the best money-spinning operation in Zimbabwe, by far. The only insight into the financial affairs of Piko Trading came when the company was in July fined US$36 000 and ordered to pay US$2,5 million that it owes tax collector Zimra for VAT from February 2009 to May 2016.
The company was also fined US$9000 and ordered to pay US$355 559 in outstanding taxes after it recorded sales amounting to US$24,3 million over those seven years. It was also revealed in court Ginimbi’s company had smuggled 5 289kg of liquified petroleum gas and did not pay $672 533 in taxes.
For his part, Ginimbi was also said to have failed to pay tax between 2010 and 2015, owing Zimra US$119 860.
Yet this and details from the premises and interviews with his former employees, auditors and close friends do not adequately explain his opulent lifestyle.
Even relatives could not explain his wealth. He himself obfuscated the issue many times when asked about it.
Ginimbi’s father Anderson Kadungure, who was not in good books with him, said he did not know his son’s source of wealth.
“As Genius grew up I could see that Genius was street smart, although he was not good in class. After finishing his ‘O’ Levels he joined the family in market gardening which is quite big in Domboshava,” Kadungure said. “But at 17 he left home for Harare and when he returned he was now driving a Mercedes Benz S Class and when I asked he said he was into gas business.”
Kadungure said he did know for sure how Ginimbi made his money. The story begins to make sense when one factors reports of Ginimbi being part of a syndicate which smuggled fuel in large quantities across the region without paying duty.
Documents from Zimra and its South African counterpart Sars showed that Ginimbi and over 40 companies smuggled fuel through Beitbridge border post.
Ginimbi was also into the entertainment and security sectors, among other things. He owned Dreams, formerly Sankayi (like the Sankayi in Johannesburg that he frequented), which is where he had his last lavish party in early hours of 8 November before his death around 5am on that fateful day.
An employee interviewed at Willow Road said Dreams was now the company’s HQ.
Ginimbi will largely be remembered for his fast lane and ostentatious lifestyle of mansions, supercars, designer clothes and clothing labels, champagne and a harem of beautiful ladies, as well as entourages of parasitic hangers-on.
The affable and vivacious, yet creative and magnetic young businessman truly lived a champagne lifestyle. A carefree life which involved enjoyment of luxuries and expensive pleasures. He usually bragged that he worked hard and played hard.
Therein lies the rub: Ginimbi’s businesses and his lifestyle simply did not match on the basis of legitimate business income. The difference between the two is like day and night. Where his supposed business empire is headquartered resembles a struggling truck inn site, not an enterprise run by a nouveau riche who likes finer things in life, as he always admitted himself.
Only when one factors in underworld activities like smuggling and rumours of drug-dealing, which he denied, does the situation begin to make sense. Facts show there is simply no luxury and elegance at Ginimbi’s head office to match his posh mansions where he parked supercars that would make rich South African celebrities look like mickey-mouse stars.
That opulence is only associated with Hollywood; even then by Beverly Hills standards it would still be over-the-top.
But that was Ginimbi’s life. A quick check of the basics by The NewsHawks to verify his claims that he made his money from selling gas yielded shady results. We checked by calling the businesses, visiting their HQ, talking to relatives, friends and the few workers we met.
First, calls on cell phone numbers given on the company and his contact details hit a brick wall. We made the first call to 0778245719 given as one of the numbers for Pioneer Gases. It was answered by a guy who said he was now dog-tired of being called by strangers asking him about things he does not know anything about.
The second call to 0778245721 showed the number is not in use. Then we called a series of landlines listed as Pioneer Gases contacts – at least five of them, for instance (0242) 665616 – and none of them went through.
Pioneer Gases’ listed numbers do not work. The group of companies which purportedly made lots of money also does not even have a website, which is unusual for such a big enterprise.
Even start-ups now have websites. Ginimbi’s company also had no structure. Attempts to locate senior executives such as Chief operating officer, financial director or human resource manager failed. There was also no statement from his company on his death.
We then quickly turned to Quick Gases in Botswana. Ginimbi’s business card – which states he was group chief executive – gives its contact as +26776787126. The number did not go through. Similarly, the number for Rivonia Gases on his card +27764749899 did not go through. This is presumably because they were his numbers and could not go through as he was in Zimbabwe by the time of his death.
But other attempts to check through other contacts also did not succeed. The Zimbabwean number – 0772442442 – registered in his name also did not through. His phones presumably got crashed or burnt in the crash that inflamed and gutted his Rolls-Royce.
In one of his previous numerous interviews and videos, Ginimbi claimed Pioneer Gases racked in US$30 000 a day. Those close to him denied the claim. But with many retailers selling gas for between US$1 and US$1.30 per kilogramme, one would have expected to see meandering queues at the Pioneer Gases which sells the commodity at just US$0.85 per kg – well below market price.
The company HQ was deserted with no queues and quiet with only four workers, including the security guard from GK Security, a company owned by Ginimbi. If Ginimbi’s business empire supplied gas for home, commercial and industrial in large quantities activity at the company premise would show that.
Pioneer Gas was previously headquartered corner Willow Road and Harare Drive before moving further down the road to No. 1558. According to one of his ex-workers, not only has Pioneer Gas changed its location, but also its name and ownership of late.
The ex-worker said while the Willow Road offices remain as shown by security guards still there, Ginimbi was now operating from Dreams nightclub and home, showing the company was not well-organised and structured.
Born in Domboshava on 10 October 1984, his father said Ginimbi was the naughtiest of his four siblings. His brother Andrew died in 2019 before his mother succumbed to cancer in January 2020. Juliet is the eldest and then Genius, the late Andrew and lastly Nelia.
Ginimbi did primary schooling at Chogugudza before he studied ‘O’ Level at Parirewa Secondary in Domboshava. Regarding the death of his son, Kadungure confirmed that Ginimbi had a vision about his own demise.
“It is hardly surprising, in the past few weeks or so, Genius would make reference to his own death, but we were not sure of where that was coming from, although I believe that it happens in life,” he said.
“Some people can predict their own death either through dreams or when they consult spiritual travellers or prophets. In this case, I shudder to think how it was revealed to him. But he spoke about where he wanted to be buried to six members of the family, including his senior maid.
“And also he had drafted some kind of a Will which he and his lawyer were to sign on Monday (9 November), but unfortunately he died a day before,” he said.
In the end, Ginimbi lived and died in wraithlike – ghostly – circumstances in a Rolls-Royce Wraith which he loved so much. – NewsHawks ■