JOHANNESBURG – Gold worth R9 million (US$506,000) which was smuggled from Zimbabwe has been forfeited to South Africa following an application by that country’s elite specialised crime investigation agency, the HAWKS.
The HAWKS, in a statement on Tuesday, said the forfeiture order was granted by the Johannesburg High Court on October 26, 2022.
The 23 pieces of gold bars were seized from Zimbabwean Tashinga Nyasha Masinire on May 8 last year after he landed at OR Tambo International Airport from Harare.
Masinire is a former driver of Henrietta Rushwaya, the president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation who was also arrested last year when found with nearly 7kg of gold in her handbag at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport before boarding a flight to Dubai. Rushwaya was acquitted of wrongdoing after a court inexplicably accepted her defence that she took the wrong handbag while dashing to the airport.
“The Johannesburg High Court has on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, granted a final forfeiture order of 23 pieces of gold following our compelling investigation,” the HAWKS said in the statement.
Masinire, who was charged with dealing in precious metals before a Kempton Park magistrate, “has been attending court since May last year and his next appearance is scheduled for later this month,” the HAWKS added. Masinire is out on R100,000 bail.
Masinire and Rushwaya’s arrests demonstrated how easy it is for smugglers, working with corrupt airport officials, to smuggle minerals out of the country. Minerals lime gold fetch higher prices when smuggled to destinations like South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.