Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
A joint team of security agencies from South Africa has intercepted four vehicles worth a combined R1, 2million which were being smuggled into Zimbabwe through illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River.
Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the vehicles were intercepted between Sunday evening and Monday morning during the ongoing operation “VALA MADI” meaning close the tap/water.
He said the suspects fled leaving the cars behind soon after spotting the security authorities.
Said Brig Mojapelo; “The continuous operations that are being conducted along the borderline, aimed at stopping the smuggling of vehicles and other stolen goods north of Musina, continue to yield positive results.
“In the latest success, “Operation Vala Madi”, comprising members derived from the Public Order Police, the Makhado Cluster led by the Cluster Commander, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the VIS and Crime Intelligence, managed to intercept and confiscate four vehicles along the borderline in the vicinity of Beitbridge border post.
“The vehicles were on the verge of being smuggled into Zimbabwe when they were spotted at different points of the borderline.
“All four vehicles were recovered from last night until the early hours of this morning. The suspects managed to evade arrest by jumping off when the police pounced on them”.
He said the vehicle had been hijacked from different people in Mabopane, Kwaggafotein, Sebenza and a car rental company in Gauteng.
He they were still conducting intensive investigations into the different hijackings.
The vehicles, he said are; a Mercedes Benz C220, (Valued at R400 000-00), a Toyota Hilux Legend 45, (Valued at R268 000-00), ISUZU KB300, (Valued at R250 000-00) and a FORD Ranger 2.5, D/Cab, (Valued at R300 000-00).
“We want to warn those involved in illegal activities along the border line that we are out in full force and their days are numbered, ” he said.
The latest development brings to 11 the total number of cars which were intercepted along the same river since the beginning of the year.
The smuggling of cars between Zimbabwe and South Africa’s border is rife amid reports that most of the cars are destined for Tanzania and Malawi, while others find their way to the local market.
In 2012, Zimbabwean police smashed a well-orchestrated car smuggling syndicate near the Panda Mine area and arrested seven Malawians and recovered five top of the range vehicles worth R4 million.
The vehicles included two Toyota Fortuners, one Nissan Navarra, Toyota High Rider and a Toyota Vigo.