Thandeka Moyo, Court Reporter
SIX suspected illegal money changers in Bulawayo have become the first to be charged under a new law that criminalises buying and selling forex.
The law was gazetted on Thursday.
Maritha Ncube (32) of Lobengula West, Celestino Panganai and David Madaba both from Cowdray Park, Enias Dzinavhanu from Nketa 9, Fortune Mhenyu (37) and Nyasha Museka (34) both from Makokoba appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya.
They were charged with contravening a section of the Exchange Control regulations.
Madaba and Panganai were represented by Mr Lawrence Chikwakwa from Sansole, Senda and Partners.
Mr Chikwakwa said both his clients were pleading not guilty to the allegations before applying for bail.
Mr Tashaya granted each of the accused $100 bail on condition that they reside at their given addresses and do not commit similar offences.
Dzinavhanu’s trial starts on October 5, Mhenyu and Museka’s is on October 6 while that of Panganai, Madaba and Ncube will commence on October 11.
Prosecuting Mr Taurayi Hondoyemoto alleges that on Wednesday, Dzinavhanu, Mhenyu, Ncube and Madaba were arrested at Chicken Inn opposite Tredgold Courts.
“Mhenyu and Dzinavhanu were holding a bunch of money and inviting people to carry out currency exchange transactions. They were asked to produce a licence authorising them to deal in foreign currency and they failed,” said Mr Hondoyemoto.
“A search was conducted and Mhenyu was found in possession of $5 x 147 bond notes, $2 x 316 bond notes, US$1 x 35, R200 x 1. The two were arrested and taken to Bulawayo central police station.”
The State alleges that on the same day Ncube was arrested along Jason Moyo Street and 8th Avenue while calling for people to come and exchange money.
“Museka was arrested along 6th Avenue and Jason Moyo Street when she failed to produce a licence for dealing in forex,” said Mr Hondoyemoto.
The Government gazetted regulations that criminalise cash vending without permission from the exchange control authority and empowered police to arrest money peddlers and seize whatever currency is involved.
In an Extraordinary Government Gazette published on Thursday, President Mugabe issued Statutory Instrument 122A of 2017 — Exchange Control (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (No 5) — to deal with the widespread cash vending on the streets.
This comes after Government’s realisation that cash vending had become a catalytic agent to the price madness obtaining in the country.
President Mugabe amended the Exchange Control Regulations of 1996, published in Statutory Instrument 109 of 1996, in particular section 2 of the principal regulations.
The amendment was done in terms of Section 2 of the Exchange Control Act (Chapter 22:05).
According to the changes, Section 40 (Orders) of the principal regulations was amended by the insertion of subsection (2c) after subsection (2b).
The inserted subsection relates to dealing in currency and provides that: “an authorised officer or a police officer acting to enforce any order — (2c) (a) may, for the purpose of holding the currency as exhibit in subsequent prosecution, seize any currency upon a reasonable suspicion that the possessor thereof is dealing in it unlawfully, that is, in contravention of any order or any provision of the Act or these regulations by virtue of which the order is made.” — @thamamoe