Illegal money changers get bail after 2 months

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Illegal money changers get bail after 2 months 
Besides the US$50 bail payable to Gweru Magistrates Court, Justice Mawadze imposed the normal bail conditions that Mafukidze and Nyamapfeni continue residing at their given addresses and not to interfere with State witnesses until the matter is finalised.

Patrick Chitumba-Midlands Bureau Chief

Two suspected illegal money changers who had spent two months in remand prison after being denied bail by a Gweru provincial magistrate have been granted US$50 bail by Masvingo High Court judge Justice Garainesu Mawadze.

Abraham Mafukidze (24) and Julius Nyamapfeni are facing charges of illegally dealing in foreign currency. 

They applied for bail pending trial through their lawyer, Mr Esau Mandipa of Mandipa, Makwara and Chikukwa Legal Practice. 

Besides the US$50 bail payable to Gweru Magistrates Court, Justice Mawadze imposed the normal bail conditions that Mafukidze and Nyamapfeni continue residing at their given addresses and not to interfere with State witnesses until the matter is finalised.

It is the State case that on April 23 at around 11.30am, police officers were on an operation at a fast food outlet in Gweru, targeting illegal money changers, when they spotted the two making a transaction. 

Mafukidze received US$2 from Nyamapfeni who made an electronic money transfer into his account. Police officers approached the two men and intercepted them as Nyamapfeni was about to give Mafukidze the US$2, leading to the pair’s arrest and subsequent recovery of the money that was given to Mafukidze, including the two cellphones used in making the transaction. 

So far, police have arrested 224 suspected illegal money changers in a blitz that has also seen the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) freezing 90 bank accounts.

Apart from freezing bank accounts, the FIU has also imposed civil penalties on more than 40 people who have been found on the wrong side of the law by violating the Exchange Control Act. 

Civil penalties do not require a trial and proof beyond reasonable doubt, only an order by a designated officer on the basis of probability. There are appeal procedures.

Police, working closely with the FIU, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, have been targeting illegal money changers in the aftermath of the introduction of the ZiG currency early last month.

Money changers have been a menace on the country’s streets, flagrantly violating Section 14(1) of the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act and the Exchange Control Act, which criminalises illegal dealings in foreign currency.

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