TWO Chinese men who were last month arrested after being found in possession of smelted gold worth over $7 000 at a mine in Hope Fountain just outside Bulawayo, had their case withdrawn before plea on Thursday after they produced documents showing that they were employees of a registered Chinese mining firm.
Liu Henguin (61) and Xiaofei Xu (26) presented documents through their lawyer Lison Ncube detailing their employment status as co-directors of Fools Investment Mine.
The documents showed that they were authorised to mine in Zimbabwe under the Fools Investment (Pvt) Ltd Company.
Among the documents shown to Bulawayo magistrate Sibongile Msipa were a special mining grant issued by the Mines ministry in February.
“I also tender the photocopy of the mine register on which the accused are appearing. It may be also part of my submissions that their passports which were handed to the State under their bail conditions state that they were employees of the Fools Investment,” Ncube submitted.
Following the submissions, the State withdrew its charges before plea and Msipa ruled that the charges were withdrawn before plea due to lack of evidence. The two were being charged with unlawful possession of gold.
It was the State’s case that on May 15, detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department Mineral Unit in Bulawayo were on surveillance in the Hope Fountain mining area targeting illegal gold miners and dealers.
The officers were informed of some illegal gold dealings taking place at Fools Investment Mine. When the mine manager Godfrey Vhezha was interviewed, he indicated that there was no gold available at the time.
The officers proceeded to search Henguin’s house following a tip-off and they allegedly found two buttons of smelted gold hidden under a mattress.
He allegedly failed to account for the gold in his possession that weighed 23,69grammes.
According to the State papers, investigations carried out indicated that Henguin was not employed at the mine as he did not appear in the register of employees and the gold found in his possession was also not entered in the mine records. Xu revealed to the officers who interviewed him that he had gold in his house.
Twenty-three buttons of smelted gold weighing 170,36g plus one gold weighing scale were found hidden inside a fitted wardrobe in his apartment.
Like his fellow national, he allegedly failed to account for the gold found in his possession, leading to his arrest.