Police in Bulawayo have launched a blitz targeting illegal forex changers popularly known as ‘osiphatheleni’ for hoarding cash at a time when the cash crisis has intensified. The blitz started on Tuesday and by yesterday, an unknown number of forex dealers had been arrested. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said the police will continue to raid cash barons.

“We have launched a campaign targeting illegal money changers among other cash barons,” she said. “I cannot immediately confirm the number of people we have arrested so far. But the raids will continue as we try to arrest those hoarding cash.” Insp Simango appealed to members of the public to assist the police with information that will lead to the arrest of cash barons.

 “We also appeal to members of the public to desist from buying cash on the street because they also expose themselves to criminals,” she said. “A lot of people have lost their money while trying to sell or buy money.” Police sources said when the raids were carried out, the illegal money changers were not as many as intelligence suggested.

“Since Saturday, there has been reports of people coming in cars from Harare to sell cash in Bulawayo,” she said. “But before we even started the raids, they have disappeared.” Illegal forex dealers yesterday boasted that they were connected to people in high places.

“We know beforehand about these raids,” said one of the illegal forex dealers who declined to be named. “The few who get arrested are not connected. They may be working as lone rangers.” The news crew observed that most osiphatheleni were not hanging around their usual spots, with a few defiant ones saying they would not leave the streets.