LATEST: South African conman arrested in Zimbabwe

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A South African, Peter Coetzee, alias Van Tonder Vikus, alias Johannes Jacobus Conelius Naude, yesterday appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Taurai Manuwere facing charges of duping two gold miners of 2,8kg of gold valued at US$154 000.

The man, whose legal name cannot be confirmed since he has not tendered his identification particulars, allegedly presented himself as a gold buyer and investor to miner Mr Gift Kudakwashe Minenji of Pistol Mine.

At this point, it is alleged that Coetzee (54), was staying at a guest house in Borrowdale, Harare.

It is the State’s case that on June 27 last year, Mr Minenji was lured to the guest house, where he went with 1,2kg gold that he wanted to sell. At about 10am, he met Coetzee, and was shown a fake proof of bank transfer.

Coetzee then said he was getting into the house to collect the balance, and his gold buying permit, but allegedly gathered his belongings and disappeared using another door, without the knowledge of Mr Minenji.

When contacted via mobile phone, Coetzee’s accomplice claimed they had gone to Fidelity Printers and Refiners in Msasa to look for more money, but the numbers were no longer going through later on.

Realising he had been duped, Mr Minenji reported the matter at ZRP Borrowdale.

In another count, Coetzee is alleged to have contacted Mr Simba Dumbura, a gold miner at S and J Mining Syndicate in Penhalonga near Mutare.

Coetzee allegedly lured Mr Dumbura by claiming he wanted to be an investor and form a partnership that would run for about five years.

On June 7 last year, Coetzee allegedly invited Mr Dumbura to the Harare guest house for a business meeting.

Mr Dumbura travelled to Harare on June 8 and met Coetzee who said he wanted to work with Mr Dumbura as a partner in his business.

It was then agreed that Coetzee visit Mr Dumbura’s mine so he knew about the operations. A week later Coetzee allegedly visited. After touring the mine, they then agreed that Mr Dumbura should bring to Coetzee the gold they produce for sampling.

On August 27 last year Mr Dumbura drove to Harare to meet Coetzee so that the 1,6kg of gold he was bringing could be sampled.

Mr Dumbura was asked to proceed to a lodge in Avondale where they would meet and on arrival at around 5pm, Coetzee was not there, but he had made accommodation booking for Mr Dumbura.

Coetzee then arrived 45 minutes later and asked to see the gold. Mr Dumbura, who was in the company of a relative, Mr Justine Mapandisana, showed Coetzee seven pieces of gold which he then started to weigh. During the transaction, Mr Dumbura recorded a short video footage using his mobile phone.

However, Coetzee allegedly pretended to have been infuriated that the gold brought was too little, and demanded that they went back to Mutare in the company of a man only known as Tanaka, who was Coetzee’s driver, so they bought more gold.

Coetzee picked up the gold pieces and went out of the lodge, leaving Tanaka behind, who he told that one Malvern, was bringing cash US$400 000, for use in buying more gold.

It is alleged that after a while, Tanaka received a call which he answered as if Malvern had come, and went outside but never returned. Sensing that he had been conned, Mr Dumbura went out of the lodge to check for himself but did not see anyone.

He tried their cellphone numbers but they were all unreachable, and then made a police report at ZRP Avondale.

Nothing has been recovered yet. No bail application was made as Coetzee’s place of residence is unknown and could therefore be a flight risk.

Mr Shepherd Makonde prosecuted.

— Herald


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