BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
POLICE in Chivhu, Mashonaland East province, have arrested a 29-year-old man, who was allegedly printing and dishing out fake COVID-19 travelling exemption letters bearing a Delta Beverages logo for US$5.
Tatenda Mabara, of 109 Ephraim Blank Street, was arrested after police laid a trap, posing as potential clients.
Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza confirmed the arrest of the suspect.
“Members of the public should stop the habit of getting exemption letters from unauthorised persons,” he said.
“It is an offence and those found using such letters will be arrested. Producing and distributing fraudulent COVID-19 exemption letters is a criminal offence and those behind such an act will face the full wrath of the law.”
According to Mwanza, a tip-off was received by ZRP Chivhu, which set a trap pretending that they wanted exemption letters.
The suspect was contacted and he unknowingly asked police officers to supply the details of the person who wanted the exemption letter.
On January 18, the suspect was supplied with the details through the WhatsApp social media platform.
On the same date, at around 9am, the suspect forwarded a soft copy of the exemption letter through one of the police operatives’ mobile phones.
The suspect then told the police to bring the US$5 or R100 payment at a bottlestore in central Chivhu.
Upon being given 100 rands, Mabara then produced two exemption letters, claiming that the issuer of the exemption letters was a Delta Beverages employee.
The suspect was subsequently arrested and upon being interviewed, he revealed that he produced the exemption letters at his home.
Mabara led the police officers to his place of residence where an HP compaq desktop set was recovered which had soft copies of exemption letters for Chivhu Delta Beverages depot’s six employees.
After conducting further searches of the room, two exemption letters in different names were recovered.
“Upon being interviewed by police as to how he had obtained the Delta Beverage logo, the accused revealed that he got the soft copy of the exemption letter from one of the employees who is employed by Delta Beverages in Harare at the inception of the current lockdown on January 4, 2021.
“The accused further stated that he was once employed as a merchandiser at the same depot before his resignation,” Mwanza said.