Thursday, 28 September 2017

COPS RAID MONEY CHANGERS

POLICE in Bulawayo have launched a blitz targeting illegal forex changers popularly known as osiphatheleni who are accused of hoarding cash at a time when the cash crisis has worsened.

The blitz started on Tuesday and by yesterday, many forex dealers had been arrested.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said the police will continue to raid cash barons.

“We have launched a campaign targeting illegal money changers among other cash barons. I cannot immediately confirm the number of people we have arrested so far but the raids will continue as we try to stop the hoarding of cash,” said Insp Simango.

She appealed to members of the public to assist the police with information that will lead to the arrest of cash barons.

“We also appeal to members of the public to desist from buying cash on the street because they also expose themselves to criminals. Many people have lost money while trying to sell or buy money,” she said.

Police sources said when the raids were carried out, the illegal money changers were not as many as intelligence suggested.

“Since Saturday there have been reports of cars coming from Harare to sell cash in Bulawayo but when the raids started, they had disappeared,” said a police source.
Illegal forex dealers yesterday boasted that they were connected to people in high places.
“We know beforehand about raids. The few who get arrested are not connected. They maybe working as lone rangers,” said a money changer, who had a bag full of mixed 
currencies.

The news crew observed that most osiphatheleni were not hanging around their usual spots with a few defiant ones saying they would not leave the streets.

“Why are the police arresting us we haven’t done anything wrong. They came this morning and took away our friends but the charge being used to arrest us is not clear,” said one of the illegal forex dealer who declined to be named.

One of the illegal dealers said the Government should target the people who are causing cash shortages instead of using them as scapegoats.

“We only make a profit of 50 cents in most of the transactions that we do. If we leave this business our children will starve. They are not addressing the problem by arresting us.
“The roof is leaking and they think they will solve the problem by cleaning the floors. They should first deal with the problem,” she said.

Senior bank workers, politicians and other business people are reportedly supplying osiphatheleni and others selling cash with the money.

In response to these claims one of them said: “I don’t care where the money comes from. If my client brings me cash I just do the job because if I start to ask where they get the money I can end up losing all my customers. We’re all out here to look for money so that we feed our children.”

Last week, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Cde Patrick Chinamasa said  Government is yet to promulgate a law that specifically deals with cash hoarding and selling of money on the black market.

There is no law to charge osiphatheleni when they get arrested and they usually pay paltry fines for blocking the pavements. chronicle

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