By Paidashe Mandivengerei
Government has warned citizens against fraudsters based in South Africa robbing locals of their cash while pretending to be representatives from the neighbouring country’s embassy conducting an agricultural programme.
The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda said the conmen were mainly targeting high profile figures; cabinet ministers, legislators and religious people.
Zimbabweans who have fallen prey to the conmen have been requested to pay amounts as high as R20 000 after being informed that South African government had allocated to the agricultural machinery to foster productivity on their farms.
In a statement, Monday, Sibanda urged nationals to be more cautious when they receive offers of a similar nature from strangers.
“It has come to our attention that there are individuals and entities of Zimbabwean extraction based in the Republic of South Africa who have devised a plan to rob fellow Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe of their hard earned cash through a wicked scum. At the centre of the scum is a purported gift from the government of the Republic of South Africa to the people of Zimbabwe supposedly to help the latter boost their agricultural productivity. For the record, “there is no such programme between the two governments as of today”.
Unsuspecting individuals are phoned from South Africa by the conmen to be told that they have been allocated tractors, centre pivots and other farm implements. The unsuspecting individuals are then requested to play a part in meeting the cost of transporting the items to Zimbabwe. The conmen pretend that they are the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. Initially the conmen were targeting Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliament and Senior Civil Servants. The pattern that is developing is that members of the faith community are now being targeted as well. The amount of money demanded to meet the transport cost is varied. In one audio the fraudster is heard agreeing to a payment of R8 000.00 whereas in other circumstances payments of above R20 000.00 were demanded.
The Government of Zimbabwe wishes to advise all Zimbabwean citizens that all agricultural equipment meant to benefit the citizenry from whatever source is distributed by the appropriate government department in Zimbabwe.
Targets are being nudged into the scum through massive propaganda to the effect that if they do not take the offer within a certain time period they would lose it to one of the many supposed beneficiaries in the queue. Citizens are advised that such a programme is non-existent.
Transport payments were supposed to be deposited in a South African Bank. Account details of the fraudsters have been kept by the Embassy of Pretoria for release to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. The other pattern that has emerged is that the fraudsters do not with to meet their victims. Their preference is that victims are kept at bay and only interface at the point of depositing money in a bank account and wait for the outcome.
We urge all our nationals to exercise extreme caution when dealing with supposed offers of this nature. The Republic of Zimbabwe has an Embassy in Pretoria whose telephone landlines are +27-12-3425125. The Embassy can be a good reference point for the verification of some of this information.