Diamond dealers appear in court

MASERU — Two men from Rustenburg, South Africa, appeared in the Butha-Buthe Magistrate’s Court last week after they were caught in possession of diamonds and counterfeit money totalling M25 800.

Police spokesman Masupha Masupha said the two men, who are aged 36 and 48, were arrested in Butha-Buthe following a tip-off.

But only one suspect, Edward Mabalane Mahlape, was convicted by the court.

“A 48-year-old man, Edward Mabalane Mahlape, was found guilty and he paid a fine of M5 000 or five years in prison.

“His colleague, Lehana Kose, was not found guilty of the charges that were laid against him,” Masupha said.

“When police got to their place they had two diamonds but could not produce any licences to show they were entitled to handle diamonds,” he said.

“They were also in possession of counterfeit money worth M25 800.

“Normally counterfeit money is found with illegal diamond dealers. Sometimes they buy diamonds from other illegal diamond dealers with that fake money.”

The police spokesman said the suspects were also found in possession of machines that are used to weigh and detect the authenticity of diamonds.

Masupha said the two were found with diamonds worth M35 000. He said there had been several cases in the past where people were swindled out of their money after they were sold fake or highly over-priced diamonds.

“In some cases the dealers sell the diamonds for M100 000 yet the diamond would only be worth M24 000 or less,” Masupha said.

“In some cases the dealers sell the same diamonds to several people.”

He said the police were working closely with their South African counterparts to crack down on the circulation of counterfeit currency.

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old boy from Ha Tlalinyana drowned in Mohokare River last Friday.

“There are at least four people who drowned in four different rivers last week after the heavy rains,” Masupha said.

“The boy was grazing his cattle. When he was going back to his village he found that the river was flooded.”

The boy is alleged to have attempted to cross the river while holding on to the tail of a calf but drowned in the process.

His body was later retrieved from the river by some villagers.

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