Friday, 24 August 2018

$1M GOLD THEFT : TOP COP IN COURT

Lovemore Sibanda
A TOP detective who allegedly approached Bulawayo businessman Lovemore Sibanda so that he could fraudulently tender his registered mining company documents to facilitate the release of 14 kilogrammes of gold kept at Plumtree Police Station as an exhibit through a court order, appeared in court yesterday.

The gold, which is part of the 28kg worth about $1 million intercepted from a suspect who was trying to smuggle it into Botswana through the Plumtree Border Post, belongs to one Jefat Chaganda.
Detective Assistant Inspector Ladislous Tinacho (50), who is in charge of the ZRP Minerals and Border Control Unit in Plumtree, allegedly linked Chaganda to Sibanda who then agreed to use his Qalo Syndicate Mine documents purporting to be the owner of the gold before securing a court order facilitating the release of 14kg of the gold worth $358 000.

Det Asst Insp Tinacho was given a $5 000 kickback for his efforts.
The gold, which was later sold at Fidelity Printers and Refiners, 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.

Det Asst Insp Tinacho yesterday appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sithembiso Ndlovu facing a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice. He was remanded in custody to September 3.

Prosecuting, Chief Public Prosecutor Ms Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said on July 7 this year at Plumtree Police Station, gold weighing 28kg and worth $970 000 was stolen from the armoury through an act of unlawful entry.

The gold was later intercepted by police at One-Stop Shop leading to the arrest of Chaganda. He was found in unlawful possession of part of the stolen gold weighing 14 kg.
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.
Det Asst Insp Tinacho assisted Chaganda to secure a lawyer. He also connected him to Sibanda whom he connived with and fraudulently used Qalo Syndicate documents to facilitate the release of the 14kg of gold. Det Asst Insp Tinacho was given $5 000 as a kickback.

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. Det Asst Insp Tinacho was given $5 000 as a kickback,” said Ms Ndlovu.

Sibanda was given $30 000 for the use of his mine documents while Chaganda and his accomplice 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 prosecutor.

Meanwhile, Sibanda’s application for bail pending trial was held in camera. He was remanded to September 24 and it could not be established whether he was granted bail or not.

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 matter.

They were all remanded in custody to September 3 by Plumtree resident magistrate, Miss Sharon Rosemani. 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 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. Chronicle

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