MASERU — Police confiscated fake R200 notes worth R93 000 from five men in Butha-Buthe last week.
The three Basotho and two South African men are currently in police custody awaiting trial, said police spokesperson Masupha Masupha.
They will be charged with possession of counterfeit notes.
“The Butha-Buthe police got a tip-off from one member of the community that there were men in possession of South African counterfeit money,” Masupha said.
“The men were caught in different villages of Butha-Buthe. They had already shared the counterfeit money when the police arrested them.”
The arrest comes amid press reports that nearly M2 million worth of R200 counterfeit notes had flooded Lesotho and South Africa’s Free State Province.
There are unconfirmed reports that the fake notes are being manufactured in South African towns that are on the border with Lesotho.
The notes are then brought to Lesotho where they are reportedly used to buy diamonds from illegal diamond dealers.
Manufacturers on the counterfeit notes are targeting Lesotho as their dumping ground for the notes because of its weak control systems.
Masupha said most of the people who have received this money are illegal diamond dealers who are duped by buyers from South Africa.
“Last week another man handed in R400 worth of counterfeit money that he got when he was illegally selling a diamond,” Masupha said.
“The man told the police that he had already used the other R1 600. He had sold his diamonds for R2 000.
“Most of the illegal diamond dealers are the ones who are more vulnerable because during the time when they are dealing with their clients they do not take a good look at the money.
“They come back to the police to report their cases yet they are dealing with illegal diamonds. The man said he decided to bring the remaining amount after he heard on radio that police were warning the public about it.”
Masupha said the counterfeit notes do not have a water mark.
“With the original notes the water mark has the amount of money written in it. Even the silver line does not show throughout the note, it only has the dotted silver line that appears from the outside only,” he said.
“The size of the note is not the same as the real note. Even the texture of the paper is different. The public should be aware of these notes because now they are available all over.”