|R40 million seafood intercepted at border|
|Friday, 04 May 2012 00:00|
POLICE detectives from the Border Control and Minerals unit have intercepted a consignment of sea food worth R40 million that was being smuggled into the country through Beitbridge Border Post on Wednesday night. The consignment of Abalone shellfish was being imported by Sitric Marketing of Harare.
Two South Africans Alick Maunwere (30) and Joseph Ndanganeni Ndou (48), have since been arrested in connection with matter.
The duo was travelling in two South African registered trucks. The trade of Abalone shellfish, which is regarded as endangered species, is prohibited in the country.
Abalone shellfish is a unique type of snail classified under the gastropod phylum-mollusca and is often referred to as the sea ear because of its flattened shape.
This type of seafood is considered a delicacy in Asia and police believe the consignment was en-route to the Far East. Sources close to the investigations said that sometime last month, Sitric Marketing, which is based in Harare, bought charcoal and Abalone from South Africa.
They intended to bring the consignment into the country through Beitbridge Border Post.
The company reportedly forged invoices indicating that that they were importing a consignment of charcoal.
Police Officer Commanding Beitbridge District Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo said yesterday investigations were underway.
He said they believed a number of people were involved in the racket.
“Investigations so far reveal that the two men transported the seafood from South Africa into Zimbabwe using two trucks. When they got to Beitbridge Border Post the suspects made a false declaration to the customs authority indicating that they were importing charcoal only,” said Chief Supt Chinhengo.
“They went through all the immigration and customs formalities and went to the commercial trucks release section. Our detectives acting on a tip off requested that their trucks be taken for further physical examinations at the Zimra container depot. A search of the trucks led to the discovery of 500 packets of Abalone shell fish which had been concealed inside the charcoal consignment.
“We also recovered 973 packets of charcoal in the two trucks. The Abalone shellfish worth R40 million and the two trucks have since been impounded by Zimra. The two suspects were subsequently arrested and they are assisting us with investigations.
“We believe they are involved in a syndicate because the sea food is very popular in Asia where it is regarded as a delicacy and they could be smuggling it to that part of the world,” he said.
The two have since been charged for contravening a section of the Customs and Excise Act. They will soon appear in court. Chief Supt Chinhengo said: “I want to warn such criminals that their days are numbered, our detectives are on high alert.”
He said the net was closing in on other members of the syndicate. The incident barely comes three months after another South African truck was intercepted while carrying a similar consignment worth R18 million.