22 illegal money-changers jailed

Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
THREE Chinese nationals and 19 illegal money-changers have been arrested in Harare since the gazetting of regulations criminalising cash vending, with police recovering $55 000 worth of bond notes, US$1 662 and R6 000. The suspects were also found in possession of 10 000 Tanzanian shillings and 320 Botswana Pula.

Under the regulations gazetted last week through Statutory Instrument (SI) 122A of 2017- Exchange Control (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (No 5), police are now empowered to arrest illegal money-changers and seize whatever currency in their possession. Government has established cash vending as a catalytic agent to arbitrary price hikes and rent-seeking behaviour. Illegal cash traders had turned Eastgate Shopping Mall, Copacabana, Roadport, Market Square and First Street into zones for illicit foreign currency deals.

Following the new regulations, which effectively amended the Exchange Control Regulations of 1996, published in Statutory Instrument 109 of 1996, in particular Section 2 of the principal regulations, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has since launched an operation code-named “Dzosai mari”, which has since led to the ongoing arrests.

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Abel Sibanda (21), Faith Muchemwa (28), Lovemore Bangwanyo (20), Shelly Danda (51), Kudzayi Musande (31), Sibongile Nyahanana (40), Joyce Marufu (33), Admire Chikanga (34), Esseline Siziba (49), Trymore Tara (35), Ruth Mutenure (30), Fiona Mapfumo (37), Khan Zeyn (28), Catherine Tekwa, Alec and Tichafa Manangazira, Abel Shambare, Debrick Hwara and Sarah Hanyani initially appeared in court on Tuesday and are still in custody pending bail ruling.

They appeared on separate records before magistrate Ms Nomsa Sabarauta charged with contravening the Exchange Control Act. They are being represented by Messrs Dumisani Mthombeni, Norman Tsarwe, Tawanda Takaendesa, Gwinyai Shumba, Steady Kachere and Liberty Mandivei.

Fang Wei (35), Wu Huanjiu (42) and Wei Wei (30), who are also being implicated in various cash vending activities, were found in possession of $50 000 worth of bond notes, which have also been seized. Fang and Huanjiu are employed at Hanjiu Mineral Development Pvt Ltd as accountant and managing director, while Wei is the operations manager at Planners Stationery.

The trio appeared before the same magistrate yesterday and were remanded in custody to today for bail ruling. The prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri opposed bail on the basis that there was overwhelming evidence against the gang as they were caught red-handed illegally trading money.

“What they were doing has a negative impact on the economy and if they are convicted, they are likely to face a lengthy prison term, hence this will induce them to abscond,” she said.

On October 3, police detectives got a tip-off that Fang, Wei and Huanjiu were in the business of selling cash at a premium. The detectives went to 136 Seke Road to conduct their investigations and they saw Wei coming from a building with a box which he put in his car and drove off. They followed him and stopped him along Enterprise road before searching his vehicle.

They recovered $50 000 worth of bond notes which were in the box, leading to his arrest. Fang then implicated his alleged accomplices. On October 2, police detectives were assigned to arrest illegal money peddlers in the CBD and during the patrol, the officers proceeded to the intersection of Robert Mugabe and First Street where they saw Siziba conducting illegal transactions.

She was arrested and police allegedly recovered $905 in bond notes, US$231, R450 and P320. The officers proceeded to Copacabana bus terminus where they observed Chikanga taking several people to his parked vehicle on different times and they pounced on him. He was searched and found in possession of $1 800 in bond notes, the court heard. Other money changers were arrested at various spots around town.

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  • Tips

    Ko mugabe anobuda nemarii each time he goes out of the country? Why concentrate on these small fish matemba muchisiya the biggest fish mashark acho? These small fish are trying to eke out a measly living.

  • Gushungo WekuGP

    Please do some real detective work. Who is employing the runners? Where did these Chinese gentleman get $50000 when such amount cannot be issued from the bank? Sure you can trace these bond notes from when they were printed to when they got into there hands?

  • SlackJawedYokel

    If the above figures are what it is, then definitely the problem is not the money changers. Unless if the real money changers are untouchable.

  • Dzasukwa Mwanaasinahembe

    I am not sure what crime these people committed

  • Pastor Farie

    This is a joke…..

  • uhuru

    no crime committed here just want to give us false hope. The regulation allows people to have such sums of money especially if there are bond notes it would have been better if the suspects were caught with $USD 50 000.00. Plus these guys are accountants for a certain company they can easily plead that they were going to make a bank deposit when they were arrested even sue these uneducated cops.

  • Ray Mbada

    Zimbabweans are now confused. One nation without a currency, one nation with ministers who fight their own justice commanding that suspects be released from cells and, the only one nation with ministers who blame their own commission (Z.A.C.) for (not being chronological during arrests) implicating ministers before dealing with some inferiors who are into serious crimes better known to the same ministers but they still, are silent on who yet they vow to fight corruption to core.

    And, here the comments under, you can’t tell whether there is going to be any clean-up because the same Israelites are blaming Moses for taking them out of oppressive Egypt. Not because they don’t want freedom, but because freedom has taken too long to come their way. SHAME ON YOU!

  • Abbey 263

    Zimbabwe is not on its knees because of money changers but because of lack of production because of…..

  • Ini

    Maybe they have a business that generates the Bond cash …