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Woman jailed 5 years for illegal possession of emeralds

A 49-year-old woman from Kariba has been sentenced to five years in jail for illegal possession of emeralds worth US$3,015.60. Rutendo Moyo, who represented herself, pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced by Harare Magistrate Ruth Moyo.

What transpired?
According to reports, detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit in Harare received a tip-off from an anonymous source that Moyo was in possession of emeralds. She was subsequently arrested while walking along Samora Michael Avenue, and the detectives recovered four pieces of emeralds from her.

Emeralds in Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe’s primary source of emeralds was historically the Sandawana Mine, located in the Mweza Range in Mberengwa District, Midlands Province. The mine is renowned for producing high-quality emeralds with a unique bluish-green hue and has a long history dating back to the 1950s. Sandawana Mine was once among the world’s largest emerald mines, but it shut down due to declining production and loss of market competitiveness. Presently, Kuvimba Mining House aims to reopen the mine, albeit as a lithium producer. The abandoned mine, previously owned by Rio Tinto, was the site of an illegal mining rush in 2020, resulting in a ban on raw lithium export in December. Kuvimba, primarily owned by the government, foresees the possibility of the site containing the country’s largest battery metal resource.

Illegal Possession of Precious Stones in Zimbabwe:
In Zimbabwe, possessing precious stones without proper authorisation is illegal. The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is the exclusive agent for marketing and selling all minerals produced in Zimbabwe except for silver and gold. Trading without proper permits is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment or fines. The government aims to curb the illegal trade in precious stones associated with criminal activities such as money laundering, smuggling, and funding of armed groups. Obtaining proper authorisation is essential before possessing or trading minerals in Zimbabwe.

The illegal trade of minerals is causing Zimbabwe to lose billions of dollars annually. The country’s long, porous borders with neighbouring countries make it challenging to regulate the flow of minerals, resulting in smuggling and significant revenue losses for the government. – (Pindula)

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