FOUR men from Bulawayo have been arrested after they allegedly tried to deposit $2 700 in fake notes into a city bank.
An alert teller at the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe branch in the city centre on Tuesday discovered the money was counterfeit and alerted his superiors who called the police.
Sources close to investigations said the gang had 27 old US$100 notes.
The four were identified as Mgcini Dube (36) of Pumula South, Thobani Moyo (39) of Mpopoma, Ngonidzashe Mpofu (42) of Gwabalanda and Mthokozisi Mhlanga (24) of Nkulumane.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango confirmed the arrest.
“I can confirm that we’ve arrested four men who were found in possession of articles for criminal use. Investigations are underway,” she said.
A source said Dube is a malayitsha who is said to have brought in the fake notes from South Africa.
The source said: “Moyo remained outside CBZ, Joshua Mqabuko Street Branch, while Mpofu and Mhlanga proceeded into the bank.
“They completed three deposit slips and proceeded to a bank teller who then cross-checked the notes. It was then discovered that they were fake and bank officials immediately informed police.”
A bank official who spoke on condition of anonymity said tellers were shocked to see someone who wanted to deposit so much cash in an economy grappling with a shortage of US dollars.
“When we informed them that their notes were fake, they laughed it off. Instead, one of them insisted the money was genuine and claimed he had just received it from his nephew who works in South Africa. He claimed his nephew got it from tips at his workplace,” said the official.
He said a malayitsha had delivered the notes to him. We thought it was odd that someone in South Africa would receive only $100 notes as tips. Later on, he shifted goalposts and said a cousin who is a Zimra official at Beitbridge Border Post had given him the notes.”
The official said the man told them his cousin had asked him to try to deposit the money and see if he would succeed.
“We called in police who arrested them for being found in possession of counterfeit US dollars,” he said.
Last Friday, five Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) officers appeared in court in Harare after they were found with $1 800 in fake notes.
The five appeared before Harare magistrate Ms Victoria Mashamba who charged them with possessing articles for criminal use. They were remanded to October 19 on $50 bail each.
They were found in possession of 16 $100 notes which were stashed in a black diary on the driver’s door panel of a white Mitsubishi Gallant they were driving.
In the same diary, detectives also recovered a photocopy of a payslip and proof of residence belonging to one of them which led to their arrest.
Last year, police bust a fake notes syndicate operating in the southern region of the country.
The gang would buy small items at grocery shops using forged $100 notes to get change in genuine currency.
Just before Christmas, a woman from Nguboyenja suburb in Bulawayo was arrested after allegedly trying to buy groceries using fake $100 notes, with police sources saying there had been a proliferation of counterfeits in the city during the festive season.
Melody Dube was arrested at Zapalala wholesale along Herbert Chitepo Street after trying to buy two packets of chicken worth $12 with a fake $100 note.
Sources at the shop said it was the second time she had been apprehended at the same outlet for attempting to buy with fake money