Fake money gang nabbed

2010-10-26 00:00

A DURBAN-BASED syndicate trading in fake banknotes has been uncovered, with two Malawian nationals printing counterfeit R100 notes and sending them to accomplices in the province.

Three suspects have been arrested in Pietermaritzburg for allegedly distributing the notes to unsuspecting pensioners, tavern owners and street vendors.

It is alleged that the suspect, Eurica Lizwi Mhlongo (36), told the police when she handed herself over that she was “supporting her children” through her illegal dealings.

She would sell the fake R100 notes for R20 each to unscrupulous people who would then buy goods with it from unsuspecting businesses and pocket genuine money from the change.

The unemployed mother of four children, who are between the ages of nine and 21, went to the Bishopstowe police station on Friday after her first-born, Siboniso Sanele Ntuli, had been arrested. He was found on Thursday at about 9 pm with notes totalling R83 000 stashed in a suitcase in their Bishopstowe house.

They both appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

On Sunday, police arrested a third suspect who is accused of having arranged for Mhlongo and her son to distribute the money to officials of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in Smero, Edendale.

The officials would pay the unsuspecting pensioners fake notes and give the suppliers of fake notes genuine money, which they stole from Sassa.

Said investigating officer Captain Obert Phakathi, the Bishopstowe station commissioner, “We only recovered R83 000 of more than R100 000, which they got from their original suppliers.

“This means there are lots of these notes out there in the streets.”

Phakathi said police have learnt that the money is mostly sold to tavern patrons, who use it to buy alcohol.

He said street vendors are also targeted. A person who bought the notes from the suspects tipped police off about the illegal trade. Phakathi said Ntuli was waiting for the clients when police swooped on him.

“His mother was out selling the notes to her neighbours,” said the officer.

He said the role of the third suspect, who will probably appear in court today, was to recruit the Sassa officials to accept the fake money.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said the case against Mhlongo and Ntuli has been postponed for further investigation and the two were remanded in custody.

The 20 confiscated R200 notes have the same serial number, AC6977815E. Three large bundles of R100 notes have the serial numbers D50321461D, D50321462D and D50321466D.

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