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Ex-Kaizer Chiefs player Liberty Masunda jailed in the UK

Former Zimbabwe international Liberty Masunda, who played for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa, has been jailed for three years in England after being found guilty of defrauding the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) out of £450,000 in maternity payments.

The 43-year-old, who also played for Blackpool, was part of a 12-member gang that set up the con, all of them Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom, and are said to have created 165 fake profiles to draw the grant money.

Masunda got the third harshest sentence and will now also have a permanent criminal record.

"People who steal identities or use fake ones in order to receive benefits they don't deserve are cheating money out of hardworking taxpayers and stealing funds, which should be used to help those who really need them," the DWP said in a statement.

"In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, these benefit thieves must pay back all the money they falsely obtained and face a criminal record for life."

Masunda made 23 appearances for Chiefs in the 1997-98 season, scoring six goals, and was widely regarded as a quality acquisition for Amakhosi.

The former player has been an active member of the Zimbabwean diaspora in the UK, raising funds for charitable causes and returning home to support former players in recent years.

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