The accused persons are Robert Christopher Silaa, Isihaka Seleman Ngubi, Cathbert Endon Mlugu, Mrishi Said Mindu, Giften John, Maulid Said, and Kirby Ng’andu (Zambian).
Prosecuting state attorneys Mwanaamina Kombakono and Mutalemwa Kishenyi alleged before senior resident magistrate Huruma Shaidi that on diverse dates between January 26 and February 6 this year, the accused conspired to steal 700 cartons of processed cashew nuts worth 120 million/- from Zambia Cargo and Logistic Limited in the city.
The stolen cashewnuts are also valued at $54, 000 in US dollar currency, and are the property of BARABARA Trading Tanzania Limited.
The seven accused were also charged with money laundering contrary to section 12(a) and 13(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2006.
It was alleged in court that on the same January 26- February 6 dates, they directly engaged in the transaction involving 700 cartons of processed cashew nuts worth $54,180.
They denied all the charges read against them, and were denied bail based on the money laundering charge. However, their defence lawyers mounted a challenge against the money laundering charge on grounds that it is not applicable in the case at hand.
The magistrate gave the defence side until tomorrow (Friday, March 9) to submit its objections to the money laundering charge formally in writing.
In late February, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa ordered Mtwara regional authorities to investigate the source of low quality cashew nuts said to originate from Tandahimba district and being sold in the market.
Speaking during a visit to the district, Majaliwa remarked: “Tandahimba cashew nuts are known to always be first grade...so where are the low quality nuts coming from?”
“(It seems) there is a cartel group trying to spoil the market and we must fight it,” he added, suggesting that some people may have sneaked in the low quality nuts from outside Tandahimba, and ordering authorities to trail and nab the culprits.
He said it was a shame that in a district where buyers are always sure of a top quality product, questions are now being raised about the quality.