By A Correspondent- A Zimbabwean man found with 23 gold bars concealed in a box of whisky at South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport has been sentenced to a fine of R40 000 or two years’ imprisonment.
Tashinga Nyasha Masinire was arrested by members of the Hawks’ serious organised crime investigation unit, with the assistance of customs officials, after he landed from Zimbabwe in May 2021.
According to Hawks Gauteng spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha, Masinire’s arrest came after he was subjected to a random search which uncovered the loot.
“He … consequently appeared in the Kempton Park magistrate’s court where he was granted R100,000 bail,” Ramovha said.
“During the Hawks’ follow-up investigation, it emerged that Masinire submitted representations with fabricated information in a bid to have the case withdrawn.
“After he realised that the case presented by investigators had no loopholes, he elected to plead guilty on February 23.”
Ramovha said his bail was revoked and on Monday the court convicted Masinire for contravening the Customs and Excise Act.
The gold bars have been forfeited to the state.
Masinire is a former driver of Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya.
Masinire’s arrest came shorlty after Rushwaya was also nabbed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport while attempting to smuggle gold.
Her case is still pending at the Zimbabwean courts.
Rushwaya is one of the gold dealers with links to Zimbabwe’s ruling elite who were recently recorded by undercover investigative journalists from Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera where they promised to help criminal networks to launder money.
The dealers that also included President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ambassador at large Ubert Angel allegedly claimed they used the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to ‘clean’ the dirty money.
A documentary on the scandal was supposed to be screened on Al Jazeera early this month, but the premiere was suspended under unclear circumstances.
RBZ government John Mangudya distanced the central bank from the money laundering activities.