KHUPEKANI Sibanda, 32, is one of more than 2,000 inmates who were pardoned by President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday, but a day after he was released, he found himself in police cells for attempting to buy clothes using fake United States dollars. Sibanda was arrested after he was found in possession $1,200 in fake notes.
He appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Evelyn Mashavakure yesterday charged with possession of articles for criminal use. Sibanda pleaded not guilty and was granted $50 bail ahead of his trial on June 3.
He told the court that he had picked up a plastic bag with the counterfeit notes. “I was released on May 25 through amnesty and on the next day as I was walking I picked up a plastic bag full of money and went straight to the flea market to try and buy clothes,” Sibanda said.
He told the court that he was not aware that the notes were fake. “I swear I didn’t know that the money was fake. I just picked it up and jumped at the chance to buy new clothes since I had just come out of prison,” said Sibanda whose previous conviction’s circumstances or the period he had spent in jail before he was pardoned were not mentioned in court.
Prosecuting, Nkhathazo Dlodlo said on May 26 at around 3PM, Sibanda approached Rosemary Mujuru intending to buy clothes at Egodini flea market. He allegedly bought a pair of tennis shoes, a shirt, jean trousers and a Tshirt valued at $60 and used a fake note to pay Mujuru.
“Mujuru realised that the note was fake leading to an argument with Sibanda on the authenticity of the money. “The two’s misunderstanding attracted the attention of a uniformed police officer Josphat Chimwinga, who was passing by,” said Dlodlo. Sibanda was searched and found in possession of 12 fake $100 notes which had two different serial numbers.