By Mbekezeli Ncube
POLICE in Bulawayo have warned citizens against engaging in deals with illegal foreign currency traders as they were one of the main sources of armed robberies that sometimes led to murders around the city.
Police provincial spokesperson for Bulawayo Province Inspector Abednigo Ncube told NewZimbabwe.com Monday, law enforcers will not stop wiping out illegal foreign currency traders popularly known as Osiphatheleni in the local language.
He encouraged citizens to use legitimate channels like banks for foreign currency exchanges.
“Police will continue to arrest illegal foreign currency dealers as the practice is unlawful and criminal. Illegal foreign currency dealing is also a conducive environment for other offences like robberies,” said Ncube.
“We urge our citizens to use legal means when dealing with their hard-earned cash,” said Ncube.
Several people have been robbed of tens of thousands of United States dollars and most of these victims are either Osiphatheleni or just ordinary people who have just changed their money.
The illegal money changers are popular with people who want to change their foreign currency into local dollars as they offer higher rates compared to financial institutions.
However, exchanging foreign currency with anyone other than Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe approved authorised currency dealers, such as major banks, is illegal.
In March this year, an illegal money changer was ambushed and shot dead outside a lodge in Khumalo, a low-density suburb. The antagonists walked away with at least US$20 000.
That same month, a Beitbridge illegal money changer was robbed lost R76 000 and US$838 by three armed robbers.
In July, a man was conned $1 400 by an illegal foreign currency dealer.