Zimbabwe cops uncover R2.3m car seat diamond cache

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Harare – Two illegal diamond dealers from Zimbabwe’s eastern city of Mutare hid R2.3 million worth of diamonds inside a car seat, it was reported on Friday.

It took a team of five police detectives more than an hour to find the diamonds after Never Chikwenha and Abbas Macky’s car was stopped at a tollgate in Ruwa, more than two hours’ drive from Mutare, the Manica Post reported.

The paper alleged the two were “well-known” diamond dealers in the city, which is close to the Marange diamond fields.

The report comes just a day after Zimbabwe’s central bank chief John Mangudya complained that authorities “don’t know what has been exported” in terms of diamonds from the country, according to the privately-owned Newsday paper.

Chikwenha and Macky are reported to have appeared in court in Harare earlier this week. They have been granted bail.

Diamonds were first discovered in Marange in 2006, prompting a diamond rush.

A military clampdown and government takeover of the fields in late 2008 has not stopped smugglers, with  authorities admitting the leakages are probably significant.

There are frequent reports of arrests of diamond smugglers from Mutare.

Chikwenha and Macky were reportedly on their way to Harare to sell the gems.

The paper said detectives were given a tip-off that the pair had diamonds in their car when they left Mutare, but waited until they got to the Ruwa tollgate to paunce because at that particular gate there is “nowhere to run.”

Last week the Manica Post reported that a Lebanese diamond dealer from the city had assaulted a gardener who stole a diamond from his home.

The gem appears to have been stored illegally at the house.

The dealer is alleged to have boasted that he “wouldn’t be arrested in Zimbabwe”, a possible reference to powerful political connections he has made.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya on Thursday called for much more transparency and accountability in the diamond industry, Newsday reports.