File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi
File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Zimbabweans fined for illegal card skimmer

By Bert van Hees Time of article published May 4, 2016

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Cape Town - Two Zimbabwean men, one with a degree in commerce, have each been fined R10 000 or two months in jail, for the possession of an illegal skimming device that gave them access to the details of a MasterCard credit card.

Kingstone Szakawapono, 36, the man with the degree, and McLarine Dembetembe, 32, a hairdresser at a traditional salon, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville on Tuesday.

The hearing, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, took the form of a plea bargain, negotiated by defence attorney Rooshdien Rudolf with prosecutor Juan Agulhas.

The men were caught in August last year, when their presence at an ATM in Observatory, near Cape Town, aroused suspicion.

Both men had to pay half the fine immediately, and the other half not later than July 31.

Rudolf assured the court that both his clients had the means to pay the R5 000 fines immediately.

Szakawapono pleaded guilty to two counts – the illegal possession of the skimmer, and involvement in a conspiracy to commit fraud.

In addition to the fine for possession of the skimmer, he was given a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for four years.

On the conspiracy charge, he was sentenced to five years in jail, suspended for five years.

Dembetembe pleaded guilty to one charge only, namely, a contravention of the Electronic Communicatiions and Transactions Act (Ecta).

For this, he was given the R10 000 fine, or two months jail, as well as a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for four years.

Effectively, both were fined R10 000, and had to pay half immediately, in addition to the suspended prison sentences.

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