By A Correspondent- A fugitive who swindled a South African company of over R10 million, jumped bail and later sneaked into Zimbabwe where he lay low for almost five years was last week arrested in Zimbabwe.
This was after a successful extradition application by South Africa at the High Court in Harare.
Last week, police stumbled upon Reginald Bernstein in Bulawayo and took him to court where he was committed to prison pending extradition to South Africa.
Bernstein, who enjoys both Zimbabwean and South African citizenship, allegedly swindled his former employer, Dainfern Golf Estate and Country Club’s Home Owners’ Association, of over R1 million and transferred it into his wife’s bank account.
He was employed as an accountant. When he appeared at the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in South Africa in 2016 facing fraud charges, he was freed on bail, ordered to surrender his South African passport, which he did.
But Bernstein vanished, having managed to get a Zimbabwean passport, and police investigations revealed that he had dual citizenship and had fled to Zimbabwe.
A warrant of arrest was issued against Bernstein and a manhunt began. Intelligence gathered by the South African police revealed Bernstein was hiding somewhere in Zimbabwe.
Cooperation between Zimbabwe and South Africa led to a successful application for the suspect’s committal to prison pending extradition.
The South African Government will meet all the costs associated with the extradition of Bernstein.
Bernstein was arrested in March 2018 in Victoria Falls.
A month later, an application for extradition was filed before a Victoria Falls magistrate but was dismissed because the State had no original documents from South Africa.
Mr Mutangadura, who heads the Asset Forfeiture Unit, took over the case on appeal at the High Court and argued the matter until the court ordered the extradition of the fugitive.