Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Registrar-General’s Office has bust a syndicate leader of fake birth certificate production and other related documents that swindled several unsuspecting people, taking advantage of the acute shortage of the documents.
The Chitungwiza-based ring leader, Tawona Garaba, would charge people varying amounts, including United States dollars.
It is understood that Garaba (31) had laptops that bore the template of the documents from the RG’s Office and would issue them out to unsuspecting people at a huge fee.
Luck eventually ran out for Garaba after a couple that wanted birth certificates for their two children smelt a rat on the authenticity of the date stamp and inquired with the RG’s Office.
Officials from the RG’s Office contacted the police and a trap was set for Garaba before the couple called him ostensibly to collect his balance.
Unaware of the trap, Garaba came to collect the balance and was immediately arrested.
Garaba has since appeared in court, which sentenced him to an effective 17 months in prison after six months were suspended.
Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango confirmed the arrest of Garaba and warned people to conduct business in properly designated offices.
“The Department of the RG would like to advise all our clients and members of the public in general that we are a public office and do not conduct official business from private offices or residences,” said Mr Masango.
“We also do not deal with agencies. People are, therefore, advised to directly deal and visit our offices.
“Where payment is required, they must insist on being issued with a receipt.
“We also encourage those that might have dealt with these dubious characters to approach our offices or the nearest police station so that investigations can be instituted.”
The RG’s Office has of late been battling to satisfy demand in terms of provision of documents such as passports and identity documents owing to shortage of foreign currency to import consumables.
The department has said production of these documents is set to increase after Treasury provided them with about US$600 000 to buy some of the consumables.
It said the injection of the US$600 000 was expected to go a long way in ensuring the availability of the important documents.
Of late, the shortage of the documents has seen Central Registry being a haven of corruption as touts and desperate clients sought to get the documents, especially passports.