Four Bulawayo suspects appear in court over R24m gold and copper heist

FOUR people were arrested in Bulawayo last month, in connection with a R24 million gold and copper heist which made headlines in South Africa after police from that country seized a vehicle containing the minerals, while the suspects got away.The four suspects, who all reside in Bulawayo, are Tinashe Mpofu (28), Zimiseleni Masibi (47), Mduduzi Ndlovu (28) and Gloria Nhema (32).Mpofu is facing multiple charges for contravening various sections of the law.

He was initially arrested by detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (Minerals Unit) leading to the arrest of the other three.

Mpofu and Ndlovu are reported to have been the occupants of the abandoned vehicle containing the gold and copper in South Africa. They were arrested on 21 May, leading to the apprehension of the other two, Masibi and Nhema.

According to court records, Ndlovu and Mpofu are reported to have been transporting the gold and copper to an unnamed destination in South Africa before police intercepted the vehicle.

The four briefly appeared in court on 23 May this year facing charges of contravening section 182 of the Customs and Excise Act, Chapter 23:02, 13:19 — smuggling.

Both Ndlovu and Mpofu are unemployed.

According to court documents, on 11 May this year, Ndlovu and Mpofu concealed 52 kilogrammes of gold and 279 kilogrammes of copper in bogus compartments they created in the vehicle they were using, a Toyota Quantum – registration number CT 37 BZ GP – to smuggle the gold and copper.

The pair evaded arrest in South Africa, after smuggling the gold and copper.

The pair is reported to have tried to evade a routine search by South African police and South African Revenue Services (Sars), as they sped off on the N1 highway, while the police and Sars gave chase.

Mpofu and Ndlovu are reported to have abandoned the vehicle 70km away from Musina, after their vehicle ran out of fuel.

They are also said to have left their identity particulars in the vehicle, as they made their escape.

The South African police sent their details to Zimbabwean police who then tracked them down.

On 21 May, a team comprising a CID Minerals Unit officer and a constable from ZRP Nkulumane, tracked and arrested Mpofu between 6th Avenue and George Silundika.

He then assisted the detectives with information leading to the arrest of Ndlovu, Masibi and Nhema.

Mpofu is also facing charges of contravening Section 3 (1) (a) of the Gold Trade Act, chapter 21:03 – illegal dealing in gold. He will be charged for the crime together with Masibi.

It is the State’s case that sometime between April and 12 May this year, Mpofu illegally bought the 52 kilogrammes of gold from Masibi.

Mpofu is also facing charges of contravening Section 3 of the Copper Control Act, Chapter 14:06 – prohibition of dealing in copper without a licence.

It was stated by the court that on 9 May this year Mpofu illegally bought copper cables from Nhema.

They were all remanded out of custody on $100 bail each and are assisting police with investigations.

The recovered gold and copper are being processed in South Africa at the Saps Laboratories and the matter is being investigated further by Saps.

The State is making efforts to bring the exhibits to Zimbabwe. by Peter Matika. Source: sundaynews

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