Peter Coetzee, a white South African man, was arrested in Zimbabwe for defrauding two gold miners of gold worth R2.8 million.

Coetzee, alias Van Tonder Vikus, alias Johannes Jacobus Cornelius Naude appeared before Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere on Monday facing charges of duping two gold miners of 2,8kg of gold valued at R2 846 582.

The fraudster is accused of having masqueraded as a gold buyer and investor to miner Gift Kudakwashe Minenji of Pistol Mine.

The court heard that at this point in time, Peter Coetzee was staying at a guest house in Harare’s leafy Borrowdale suburb.

It is the state’s case that on 27 June last year,  Coetzee met with Minenji at the Borrowdale guesthouse and showed the gold miner a fake bank transfer for 1,2kg of gold.

bogus investor… Peter Coetzee arrives at the Magistrates Court in the company of detectives

The South African then went back into the house on the pretext he was getting his gold permit and collecting the balance. He proceeded to gather his belongings and disappeared using another door, without the knowledge of Minenji.

Minenji then contacted Coetzee’s accomplice who claimed they had gone to Fidelity Printers and Refiners in Msasa to look for more money.  When he tried to get in touch again the numbers were no longer reachable.

Realising he had been duped, Minenji went and reported the matter at ZRP Borrowdale.

In another matter, the South African man approached Simba Dumbura, a gold miner at S and J Mining Syndicate in Penhalonga near Mutare, claiming he wanted to partner for five years. He met the miner at the Borrowdale guest house on 8 June 2021. A week later he toured Dumbura’s mine to familiarise himself with its operations.

After the tour, they agreed that Dumbura should bring the gold they produce for sampling. On 27 August last year, Dumbura came from Mutare to Harare with 1,6kg of gold for sampling.

Coetzee arranged for them to meet at a lodge in Avondale. When Dumbura arrived at around 5 pm, Coetzee was not there, but he had made a booking. The South African man arrived 45 minutes later and asked to see the gold.

Dumbura who was in the company of a relative Justine Mapandisana showed Coetzee seven pieces of gold which he then started to weigh. During the transaction, Dumbura recorded video footage using his mobile phone.

Coetzee then became infuriated and complained that the gold brought was too little, and demanded that they go back to Mutare in the company of a man only known as Tanaka, who was Coetzee’s driver, to buy more gold.

Coetzee picked up the gold pieces and went out of the lodge, leaving Tanaka behind, who he told that one Malvern, was bringing cash US$400 000, for use in buying more gold.

After a while, Tanaka received a call and answered as if Malvern had arrived. He went outside but never returned. Realising that he had been conned, Dumbura went out of the lodge to confirm if Tanaka was still around but found no one.

He tried their cellphone numbers but they were all unreachable, and then made a police report at ZRP Avondale.

Nothing has been recovered yet.

No bail application was made as Coetzee’s place of residence is unknown and could therefore be a flight risk. (online)