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SYNDICATE BUSTED WITH E205 300 COINS, GAMBLING MACHINES

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MBABANE - A police raid on a large mansion at the high-end Tubungu Estate in Matsapha has led to the busting of a Chinese syndicate that deals in illegal gambling machines.


An amount of E205 312.66 in E2 coins, nine slot machines with their various components, 506 mobile phones and five motor vehicles were recovered by the police during the raid. Also to be found in one of the rooms were electronic components that were used for programming the gambling machines.
Some of the lottery gambling machines were retrieved from two motor vehicles.


The motor vehicles were reportedly used to run the gambling business by transporting the slot machines to shops, as well as collecting the proceeds received from running the business.
The investigations by the Royal Eswatini Police Service came after there was an outcry in Matsapha concerning pupils who were absconding classes to gamble in the nearest shops.


Permits


The six Chinese nationals who were found inside the mansion claimed to be working for a ‘big boss’ who lives in China. It was discovered that some of them were staying in the Kingdom of Eswatini without valid permits.
According to the police, the Chinese nationals who were found in the mansion are Jiafei Cheng, Gen Cheing, Chen Shuxiang, Wang Xunnan, Wang Xunjie and Lin Wei. Inside the mansion there were also five emaSwati who upon been interviewed by the police, indicated that they were employed by the Chinese as drivers.


As per Section 42 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) 2018, the State has obtained an order to seize all the items that were found in possession of the five Chinese nationals, including the money.


Principal Crown Counsel Elsie Matsebula, who is the head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the office of the director of public prosecutions (DPP), deposed to an affidavit outlining circumstances leading to the investigations.  She told the court that the relevant facts showed that the items and the money were the proceeds of unlawful activity and instrumentality of an offence.


“The police received information to the effect that there were Chinese nationals staying in the Kingdom of Eswatini without valid permits around Tubungu.  There was further an outcry in Matsapha concerning school children absconding school,” submitted Matsebula.
According to the principal Crown counsel, it was reported that the pupils were involved in some gambling activities using some lottery machines placed at different shops around the area.


Retrived


She said the police then visited Tubungu Estate where the Chinese resided. 
The head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit said a search on the premises was conducted and E205 312.66, nine slot machines, four Toyota X Trail motor vehicles and a Nissan Rav4 were retrived. According to Matsebula all the Chinese nationals were in possession of travel documents.


“The travel documents showed that they will be stamped now and again. The passport will be stamped now and then for purposes of extending their stay in the Kingdom of Eswatini,” submitted Matsebula.


She told the court that information received from the Immigration Department was that all the Chinese had applied for work permits in the Kingdom but none of them had been issued with same.


Investigations, according to Matsebula, led the police to various shops and one of them was at Mathangeni, trading as Highway Grocery.  The police reportedly found a lottery gambling machine placed at the veranda of the shop.


“A statement was recorded from the owner of the shop, Nuro Richard Changendo, who informed the police that the machinery was placed by some Chinese nationals for purposes of gambling,” averred the principal Crown counsel.  Changendo disclosed to the law enforcers that he was promised 30 per cent of the proceeds of the machinery and collections were made on several occasions by the Chinese.


Admitted


“Information led the police to a business styled Ngwenya Supermarket and the owner of the shop, Mfanzile Sandile Ngwenya, admitted to have received one gambling machine from a certain Fakudze, who was in the company of a Chinese man,” averred Matsebula. Ngwenya is said to have also indicated that the lottery machine was utilised for gambling purposes and he was promised 20 per cent share of the proceeds. The court heard that while the police were investigating, Ngwenya received an instruction from Fakudze to hide the gambling machine.


Matsebula highlighted that the Chinese nationals who were arrested at Tubungu were identified as the owners of the slot machines that were recovered from the shops. “Investigations also revealed that some of the slot machines were quickly removed from the various shops upon receiving information that the police were investigating the existence of these gambling machines,” said the principal Crown counsel.

She submitted that in court, two of the Chinese nationals pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the Lottery Act 40/1963.  “Investigations have revealed that some people would take chances and use other coins, including Mozambican coins other than the E2 coin. Mozambican coins were found among the coins recovered at the Tubungu house,” contended Matsebula.


Purchased


She disclosed that the two X- Trail motor vehicles registered NSD 822 CH and NSD 772 CH were purchased by Jianfei at ZME Investments in December 2019. The purchase price was an amount of E140 000. Matsebula submitted that evidence had revealed that when Jianfei purchased the X- Trail vehicles he was in possession of coins amounting to E65 000. “The garage owner refused to take the coins and ordered him to go and deposit same in the bank,” averred the State lawyer.

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