Police in Chipinge have intercepted two trucks loaded with 418 bales of second hand clothing, as the crackdown on smugglers continue to intensify.
Since January this year, a total of 45 146 people have been arrested countrywide for smuggling and other illegal cross-border crimes.
In the Chipinge incident, one of the truck drivers was arrested when the trucks were stopped and impounded, but the other manageed to flee and is still at large.
The interception occurred at Tanganda Business Centre in Chipinge during curfew hours at around 10pm on Thursday last week and police have since impounded the two trucks.
Investigations have revealed that the clothes and shoes were smuggled into the country through an unauthorised entry point at Southdowns in Chipinge.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said when the drivers of the two MAN trucks laden with 418 bales of second hand clothes and shoes were flagged down at Tanganda Business Centre, they stopped and parked their vehicles and then fled.
One decided to chance his luck and went to Mutare Police Station claiming ownership of one of the vehicle.
The astonished police grabbed him and he is being charged under the Customs and Excise Act for failure to account for goods which are supposed to be accounted for.
A manhunt has since been launched for the other driver who is still on the run.
“Investigations revealed that the contraband was smuggled into the country through an unauthorised entry point at Southdowns, Chipinge,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
“The ZRP applauds members of the public for working together with law enforcement agencies in fighting smuggling activities.”
Smuggling has been on the increase countrywide and police have been launching a crackdown on them.
In April, police in Nyazura, Manicaland, exhibited a high degree of professionalism when they resisted a US$9 000 bribe dangled by members of a smuggling syndicate. Instead of taking the cash they arrested six of the gang and recovered a huge number of second hand clothing bales laden on six trucks believed to have been destined for Harare.
First four suspects were intercepted and arrested but then two more men appeared and offered the officers a bribe of US$9 000, which the officers turned down and immediately arrested them as well.
The first four suspects in this case were arrested after a high-speed chase with officers who ended up shooting the tyres of the fleeing suspects’ vehicles. Two other trucks managed to evade the police but were later found dumped near Headlands.
Seven more smugglers, six of them foreigners, had been arrested in Binga a day earlier as they loaded 275 clothing bales onto a 15-tonne DAF truck as law enforcement agents intensify operations against smuggling.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, police arrested 140 people for illegal border crossing in Beitbridge, Mukumbura and Nyamapanda while two others were also arrested for smuggling at Plumtree Border Post.
Police recovered assorted electrical appliances, building materials and groceries approximately valued at 24 760 pula.