Mihlakayifani Dlamini with United States of America jeweller Jacob Arabo.
Jacob and Co. - a company that belongs to celebrated United States of America jeweller Jacob Arabo - is implicated in a serious case of illegal gold mining in Swaziland.
An employee of the company, one Beke Janel, is presently behind bars after being found with 27kg of the illegally mined gold.
The local consortium of Jacob and Co. has listed its directors as Arabo, one Vadim Yakubov and royal family member Mihlakayifani Dlamini.
Mihla currently resides in the USA where he is doing business with Arabo and the two were in Swaziland in April to honour the 46th birthday celebrations of His Majesty King Mswati III.
Investigations by the Sunday Observer found that, in Swaziland, Jacob and Co. has been given a licence to prospect for gold in the Northern Hhohho region.
According to the licence, the company has been given permission to prospect 22 million hectares of the Northern Hhohho Mountains.
However, it has been ascertained that the company has now been instructed to stop carrying out the prospecting after it was found to be engaged in an illegal mining of gold at Lufafa Mountain.
To explore for gold is a process where you work on an area to ascertain how much gold is available and the quality thereof, no mining is involved.
During the prospecting, a source said, whatever gold that they would come across is supposed to be forwarded to the Central Bank because it belongs to the King.
Government is reported to have been informed that what the team from Jacob and Co. was no longer prospecting but mining.
This observation is said to have been raised by people living around the Lufafa Mountain who saw the amount of machinery at the company’s site.
“Upon inspection of the site by officers from the geology department, it was discovered that employees of Jacob and Co. had dug mine shafts along the mountain and were mining gold. A report on the findings was compiled and submitted to the commissioner of mines for action,” an impeccable source said.
Acting Commissioner of Mines Sam Ntshalintshali was contacted by this publication to find out what action had been taken against Jacob and Co. but he asked for questions to be emailed to him so he could respond.
The questions were emailed on Friday afternoon but he had not responded by yesterday evening when this report was compiled.
Sources have also revealed that the country’s three security chiefs were also briefed about the illegal mining that was being carried out by Jacob and Co.
“The security chiefs called the geology officers to a meeting where they sought explanations on what was going on and everything was explained to them. They then assigned officers to go and find out what was happening and put a stop to any illegal act being conducted,” said a source.
That was what led to the arrest of the company’s employee who was found with the gold in his rented flat at Glen Village in Pigg’s Peak.
Sources said the gold found at Lufafa Mountain is of high quality, which is what might have tempted the employee to steal it.
About Jacob Arabo and Swaziland
Before 2012, many a Swazi knew little about Jacob Arabo, the man who is christened the ‘King of Bling’ or ‘Jacob the Jeweller’.
It was not until September 2012 when he was pictured with His Majesty King Mswati III in New York that the media got interested in his identity and background.
The King met him on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Arabo threw the King and Inkhosikati LaNkambule a dinner that was also attended by the entire Swazi delegation.
On return to the kingdom, His Majesty mentioned during a press conference at Ludzidzini Royal Residence that he had met a number of businesspeople in the US who would be coming to the country.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mtiti Fakudze confirmed that the flamboyant Arabo was one of the businesspeople the king was talking about.
His Majesty introduced Arabo to the nation during the 2012 graduation at the University of Swaziland graduation ceremony and told all present that the businessman was a man of his word as he had promised to come to the country in a week’s time and he had done just that.
Purposes of Arabo’s visit were never publicised but it coincided with the opening of a number of business opportunities including the scheduled re-opening of the Dvokolwako Diamond Mine.