Plumtree Gold Heist, Businessman Roped In
A BULAWAYO businessman has appeared in court for allegedly using his registered mining company documents to facilitate the release of 14 kg of gold through a court order in return for a $30 000 kickback.
Lovemore Sibanda (50), who owns Qalo Syndicate at Sun Yet Sen in Plumtree and residing in Khumalo suburb, unlawfully permitted Constable Dingumuzi Ncube and one Jefat Chaganda to use his mine documents and purport to be the owners before securing a court order facilitating the release of 14kg of the gold worth $358 000. Qalo Syndicate is a registered mine under Sibanda’s name.
The gold was later sold at Fidelity Printers and Refiners. The gold was seized by police while being smuggled to Botswana through Plumtree Border. It was subsequently taken to the police station where it was kept as an exhibit.
Sibanda appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sithembiso Ndlovu facing a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice. He was remanded in custody to today for bail application.
Prosecuting, Chief Public Prosecutors Mrs Tariro Rosa Takuva and Ms Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said on July 7 this year, Chaganda was arrested at Plumtree Border Post for unlawful possession of gold and smuggling.
Chaganda was taken to court and during his trial, representations were made to the court that through Qalo Syndicate, he was the purported owner of the gold, which was the subject of the matter.
The court heard that Chaganda was discharged at the close of the State case and the magistrate ordered the release of the gold.
“Soon after the gold was released through a court order, Chaganda took the mineral to Fidelity Printers and Refiners where it was bought for $358 000,” said the prosecutors.
After selling the gold, Sibanda was then given $30 000 for the use of his mine documents while Chaganda and Constable Ncube shared the remainder.
“By allowing such misrepresentations to be made before the court, the accused person prejudiced the trial proceedings, which resulted in the release of the gold into his possession,” said the prosecutors.
In his warned and cautioned statement, Sibanda admitted that he produced documents that were used at the trial giving the impression that the gold belonged to Qalo Syndicate.
In related case the Officer-in-Charge of Plumtree Police Station, Inspector Ginger Vhiyano and six of his subordinates have since appeared in court in connection with the theft of 28kg of gold which was kept at the station as exhibit.
Inspector Vhiyano, Detective Assistant Inspector Luduscious Tinacho, Constables Dingimuzi, Ndabezitha Ncube, Tyson Ruvhando and Godfrey Makuwaza were not formally charged with theft when they appeared before Plumtree resident magistrate, Miss Sharon Rosemani.
They were all remanded in custody to September 3. The seven allegedly hatched a plan to steal the gold and two FN rifles.
According to court papers, detectives from the Minerals and Border Control Unit arrested a suspect who was trying to smuggle 28 kilogrammes of gold through the Plumtree Border Post into Botswana.
The seven then took the gold worth $970 000 as an exhibit and locked it at the police station’s armoury for safekeeping.
The offence came to light on July 15 when Chief Inspector Mangena, who was reporting for duty, noticed that two FN rifles which were booked in the charge office were not physically there in the armoury.
She inquired from Chief Inspector Munasireyi whether he had seen the rifles and he advised her to ask Insp Vhiyano, who had gone on vacation.
Chief Insp Munasireyi went to the armoury and discovered a key inserted in the key hole.
This was witnessed by Chief Insp Mangena and Sergeant Major Shumba who tried to remove it.
Sgt Maj Shumba, who had knowledge of the gold exhibit in the armoury, went in to check and found it missing.
Chief Insp Munasireyi reported the guns and gold missing.
Investigations led to the arrest of Constable Dingumuzi who was allegedly sold out by a prophet whom he had consulted to evade arrest and paid him with gold.
On his arrest, he implicated the other six including Insp Vhiyano leading to their arrest.
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