Dealer up for smuggling $14k diamonds

MUTARE - A Mutare dealer has been arrested at Forbes Border Post after he was accused of trying to smuggle $14 000 worth of rough diamonds out of Zimbabwe.

Tapiwa Brian Mhlanga, 32, was detained when immigration officials at the border discovered a bag of more than 72 stones, weighing 127.65 carats, in his pants.

He insists that he was simply passing through the border in transit and was “framed” by someone known to him.

He was arrested this week and appeared before the Mutare Magistrate’s Courts yesterday to face a charge of unlawful possession of precious stones and immigration offences.

Prosecutor Fletcher Karombe told the court that Mhlanga presented himself at the border point and the immigration officer, acting on a tip-off, decided to undertake a physical check.

Mhlanga, of 1443 Chikanga 1 in Mutare, denied the charges when he appeared before magistrate Sekai Chiundura, who remanded him in custody to December 7.

He is being charged under section 3 (1) of the Precious Stones Trade Act chapter 21:06 which prohibits dealing or possession of diamonds without a permit or licence. He is also being charged under section 182 (1) of the Customs and Excise Act chapter 23:02 which outlaws smuggling.

He has since applied to be freed on bail. The bail ruling will be made today.

It is the State’s case that on November 29 at around 1100 hrs, detective assistant inspector Mpofu was at the Minerals and Border Control Unit Special Task Force when he received information that Mhlanga was in possession of diamonds that he intended to smuggle into Mozambique.

Reacting to the information, Mpofu and detective sergeant Mucharuona rushed to Forbes Border Post where they saw Mhlanga still going through the immigration formalities.

They, however, waited for him to come through the exit point where they approached him and identified themselves as police officers. He allegedly tried to run away towards Mozambique.

The two caught up with him and arrested him after a struggle.

The 72 diamonds were recovered from his underwear. They were in two plastics sachets of 44 and 28 pieces.

The precious stones were sent to Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe for assessing and were declared to be precious stones.

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