Monday, 12 April 2021

FAKE IMMIGRATION STAMPS : MAN ESCAPES JAIL

A 44-year-old Beitbridge man believed to be part of a syndicate using fake customs and immigration stamps to clear travellers and goods at the border post, has been fined $100 000.

Thomas Chidza of 3600 in Dulivhadzimu was arrested on March 19 by border security officials during a sting operation at his bogus immigration office. He was brought to court charged with possession of articles for criminal use.

Beitbridge resident magistrate Mr Toyindepi Zhou slapped Chidza with a $100 000 fine or 12-month imprisonment and suspended another six months for five years. In default of paying the fine, he risks doing time in prison for six months.

Prosecuting, Mr Cloudios Karinga said Chidza was nabbed at around 2am on March 19 after assisting a South African bus crew member to enter Zimbabwe by endorsing his passport with a fake immigration stamp the previous day.

He said police found Chidza in possession of two fake Zimbabwean immigration date stamps, three fake South African immigration date stamps and one inkpad.

The court heard that he was also in possession of seven passports belonging to Norman Mandaza, Handsome Luphahla, Moses Djaji, Samuel Kasimu, Maimba Stanley Chimwende, Wilson Banda and Majidhu Kazembe, which had come for clearance.

Chidza was subsequently arrested and his tools of the trade were confiscated. Chidza’s arrest comes a few years after the fake stamps’ syndicates were dismantled by border officials when they nabbed two of the kingpins with 48 fake immigration and customs stamps.

Vanu Juawo and Osman Sibanda were found in possession of 41 replica stamps of the South African Immigration Department and seven imitations of the Zimbabweans immigration authorities’ date stamps.

The two were busted soon after endorsing the fake stamps on six passports.

In 2017, a 29-year-old Zimbabwean man, Duncan Danda, was jailed for six years by a Musina (South Africa) magistrate for opening an illegal office at that country’s component of the border.

He was arrested at his base within the border taxi rank by the specialized crime unit, The Hawks, and was convicted on two counts of contravening a section of the Immigration Act.

For the first count, he was sentenced to six years imprisonment set aside for five years, and fined R10 000 for the second count. Danda was giving prospective travellers a stay of up to 90 days in that country.

Under South Africa’s immigration laws, Zimbabweans are allowed a stay not more than 90 days per year in that country. Herald

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