An extensive investigation conducted by South African unit Amabhungane has brought to light a significant case of money laundering, potentially involving an estimated R10 million, shortly before the ousting of the late Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe during a coup.
At the prevailing exchange rate, R10 million equates to approximately US$526,114.
The investigation meticulously outlines a series of hawala payments made to a recipient identified as BC Mugabe through an undisclosed individual linked to Ewan Macmillan, a figure associated with the Gold Mafia exposé.
Hawala payments represent an illicit method of settling cross-border debts, primarily aimed at bypassing regulatory oversight and statutory constraints. These transactions entail one party making payments in one country and receiving equivalent sums in another country.
This identical method was previously exposed by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit within the Gold Mafia investigation, in which Ewan Macmillan played a central role.
The report discloses, “Other intriguing entries within the Caydees’ records include a ‘BC Mugabe,’ representing the initials of Robert Mugabe’s youngest son, Bellarmine Chatunga Mugabe.”
“Thirteen payments amounting to just under R10 million were directed to this individual during the turbulent period leading up to the removal of the elder Mugabe from power in November 2017.”
“During that time, there were widespread news reports highlighting Bellarmine’s lavish lifestyle in Johannesburg.”
Amabhungane is anticipated to release a more comprehensive report detailing the mechanisms by which hard currency was transported to South Africa by the Mugabes, as part of their ongoing investigation series.
Bellarmine Chatunga, known colloquially as “Chatunga,” is one of Mugabe’s three children, all of whom have encountered legal issues in recent years. His sister Bona was recently exposed for acquiring extensive landholdings in Harare and beyond, including multiple farms, amid an acrimonious divorce with her husband, Simba Chikore, who seeks a substantial claim to Bona’s estate. Their brother, Robert Jr., has also faced legal proceedings in connection with violent incidents, which have reportedly been downplayed, allegedly due to his recurring appearances at Zanu PF events.
Mugabe’s presidency came to an end in November 2017, facilitated by the collaboration of his former military allies and current President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This transition coincided with the processing of two R1 million transactions, following five batches of R1 million and two of R500,000 in October, with the initial R500,000 transaction in September.