Bond coins driver charged under Official Secrets Act
By Tarisai Machakaire
A South Africa-based driver at Prestige Carriers who reportedly leaked information that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had bought six million, 50-cent bond coins — equivalent to $3 million — from South Africa, appeared in court yesterday.
The court heard that Tinashe Sikwila, 32, of Mkoba, Gweru — who transported the bond coins — allegedly circulated an invoice indicating details of the fiat currency in transit before he reached Beitbridge Border Post.
RBZ had contracted a South African company— South African Mint Company (SAMC) — to mint the coins.
SAMC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank.
Signed by SAMC’s chief financial officer, Gerda Janse van Vuuren, the invoice read in part:
“Denomination: 50-cent bond coins, number of coins: 6 048 000, number of drums: 126, cost in rand per 1 000 pieces: 849.09, total cost in rand: 5 135 296.32. Coins manufactured in South Africa. Country of origin South Africa.”
It was addressed to RBZ banking operations deputy director, a Professor Kuveya.
Sikwila appeared before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande charged with contravening the Official Secrets Act by leaking prohibited information.
His bail will be determined today.
The investigating officer Edmore Muchineripi Runganga opposed bail on the basis that Sikwila was a flight risk because he holds a South African passport.
Runganga alleged there was also a risk that Sikwila would interfere with South Africa-based witnesses.
Prosecutor Tatenda Murindagomo alleged that on September 20, Sikwila was assigned to be part of a team that was escorting two trunks of bond coins from South Africa into Zimbabwe.
The court heard that Prestige Carriers had been contracted by RBZ and Sikwila had been entrusted to render maximum security in transporting the money.
It was alleged that when Sikwila was collecting the coins from South African Mint Company where they were produced, he took a photograph of the commercial invoice number ZIM/184100-02/2017.
Sikwila allegedly posted the image on WhatsApp to a South African number owned by one Calisto.
That same day, it was alleged, the invoice and information about the amount of bond coins that were en route to Zimbabwe circulated on social media.
According to the State, this discredited the security of the escort team and Zimbabwean government “whose secret was unnecessarily circulated on social media”.
On September 21, around midday, RBZ officials who had gone to Beitbridge Border Post to meet Sikwila and take over transporting the bond coins, were alerted that the invoice had been leaked to social media.
Upon arrival in Harare, the escort crew was ordered to open their phones in a bid to establish who had leaked the security information and it was discovered that Sikwila was the one who had leaked the invoice to Calisto. Daily News