Chronicle (Zimbabwe)

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

SEVEN Chinese nationals facing charges of money laundering and illegal possession of more than 20kg of rhino horn pieces with an estimated street value of about $1 million are feared to have fled the country. 

This is after the seven namely, Zeng Dengui (35), Peicon Jang (35), Liu Cheng (23), Yu Xian (25), Yong Zhu (25), Chen Zhiang (30) and Qui Jinchang (29), who were released on $5 000 bail each in April, stopped reporting to the police as set in their bail conditions.

They had been reporting three times daily at the Victoria Falls Police Station until last Saturday.

Police sources said the seven, who all along were regulars on the streets of Victoria Falls, were last seen on Friday. The source said unconfirmed reports show that the accused fled to Mozambique.

Acting Matabeleland North police spokesperson Sergeant Namatirai Mashona could not be reached for comment.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva, who had granted them bail, had also ordered them not to travel beyond a 10km radius from Victoria Falls town unless going to Hwange for court appearances.

The judge had also ordered them to surrender travel documents and to reside at their given address, number 858 Aerodrome suburb in Victoria Falls where they were renting until the matter is finalised. 

The seven were due to appear at the Hwange regional court on Friday next week for routine remand pending determination on an application they made at the High Court for a review of the dismissal of their application for discharge by the Hwange magistrate’s court.

They are being represented by Mr Martin Chasakara instructed by Mr Givemore Mvhiringi.

Mr Mvhiringi could not comment on the issue, saying they would only know next week. 

Allegations against the seven are that on December 23, they were found in possession of several pieces of rhino horns weighing 20,98kg with a street value of $938 700 at house number 858 Aerodrome suburb in Victoria Falls where they were renting. 

Police received a tip-off and raided the house after obtaining a search warrant from court. 

They recovered several pieces of rhino horns in a bedroom used by one of the accused persons. A digital scale was also recovered. — @ncubeleon.