SOUTH Africa’s Hawks, a specialised directorate for priority crime investigation, have arrested a Zimbabwean man for allegedly smuggling 23 pieces of gold worth R11 million into the neighbouring country.
Tashinga Nyasha Masinire (33) was arrested on Saturday afternoon soon after landing at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
He appeared at the Kempton Park Regional Court in Gauteng province yesterday on charges of contravening the Customs Act 91 of 1964 and Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005.
He was remanded on R100 000 bail to July 1 for trial .
It is suspected that the contraband was smuggled from Zimbabwe and Masinire, who was travelling from Zimbabwe to South Africa, was intercepted by alert South Africa Revenue Service officials at the airport.
In a statement Hawks’ regional spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, said: “The alleged gold smuggler, a Zimbabwean Tashinga Nyasha Masinire was granted bail of R100 000 with stringent conditions: not to leave South Africa and to report at nearest SAPS police stations three times per week and the matter was remanded to the 1st July 2021 for further investigations.”
The gold was discovered after airport officials asked to scan Masinire’s luggage.
“The suspect was asked to scan his luggage at the international arrivals Customs section of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and 23 pieces of gold were allegedly found in his luggage. He allegedly failed to declare any items and did not have any permits or licences to be in possession or transport gold,” said Lt Col Nkwalase.
Lt Col Nkwalase said airport officials alerted the Hawks leading to the suspect’s arrest.
“The preliminary investigation by the Hawks revealed that the suspect travelled from Harare, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa.
The 23 pieces of gold worth R11 million were seized for further investigation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya has dismissed reports trending in some sections of the media linking her with Masinire.
Speaking through her lawyer, Mr Vunganai Chivore of Chivore Dzingirai Group of Lawyers, Ms Rushwaya said they cut ties with Masinire in August last year when he resigned as a driver from ZMF.
“He was once employed by ZMF as a driver and he resigned on 28 August 2020. Since then, there has never been any contact, communication, correspondence whatsoever between him and ZMF or Ms Henrietta Rushwaya,” said Mr Chivore.
“This false information could have come from anyone, it’s newsworthy bringing Ms Rushwaya into gold-related criminal activities”.
Mr Chivore said the circulation of false information was an attempt to tarnish the image of his client, who is out on bail for a similar charge, using proxies.
Ms Rushwaya was arrested at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare allegedly with the precious mineral worth US$366 000 in her bag as she checked in for a flight to Dubai.
“It could be someone in ZMF who is eyeing to tarnish her image for whatever reasons, maybe upcoming elections in the organisation, or someone who just associated Masinire with ZMF, but whoever it is and whatever the reason, clearly, it’s far from the truth and facts,” said Mr Chivore.
Gold is the country’s biggest foreign currency earner. Last year, the country earned US$946 million, down from US$1,3bn in 2018 from exports of the metal.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe recently told Chronicle that as part of a raft of measures to fight smuggling among other criminal activities, his ministry is in the process of equipping the Zimbabwe Republic Police with modern technology and channeling more resources towards the fight against crime.
Some of the measures that Government is working on to plug the leakages include installing a sophisticated computerised system at the country’s border posts and airports which will be able to detect illegal activities.
Treasury also intends to procure 500 police vehicles to help fight crime and improve efficiency in terms of policing and fighting corruption among other illegal activities. Chronicle