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
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
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
Mr Shepherd Makonde prosecuted. Herald