Prosper Dembedza Court Correspondent
A Chinese man appeared in court yesterday after he was caught attempting to export $32 000, an amount that is well beyond the prescribed $5 000.
Li Yuchang (55) was charged with exporting foreign currency exceeding the prescribed amount when he appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe.
He pleaded guilty to the charge.
Mr Mahwe found Li guilty and ordered him to pay a fine of $200 or spend 30 days in prison.
Li’s lawyer, Mr Tungamirayi Muganhiri, said his client was not a lawyer but a Chinese national with a fleeting understanding of the English language.
“All the checkpoints at the Harare International Airport are written in English. If he was asked whether he wanted to declare some cash he would have simply done so,” he said.
He said there would be mischief if he had declared some of the money and hidden the rest.
“A fine would meet the justice of this matter, imprisonment would be too harsh for the accused person,” Mr Muganhiri said.
Allegations are that on March 8 at Harare International Airport, detectives from the Mineral Border Control Unit placed Li, who wanted to travel to China using an Emirates airline, under surveillance after receiving a tip-off that he wanted to smuggle cash exceeding the stipulated $5 000 out of the country.
The court heard that Li went past the ZIMRA desk and declared three buffalo belts, one crocodile handbag, three crocodile purses, two elephant belts, three elephant purses, three hippopotamus belts and one crocodile handbag and did not declare any cash.
It is alleged that Li went past immigration checkpoint where he presented his passport for the departure stamp.
It is the state’s case that when Li passed the immigration checkpoint, officers confronted him and he was taken to a search room.
During the search the officers recovered $10 000 hidden around Li’s waist underneath his belt.
The court heard that Li’s hand luggage was also searched and $20 000 was recovered hidden inside.
It is alleged that another $2 000 was recovered in Li’s wallet. He was then arrested.