Anti-smuggling operation hitting hard on criminal networks: SAPS SA police arrested a 33-year-old South African male suspect and seized a pick-up truck valued at over R1 million today.

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau

The South Africa Police Service (SAPS) has said its anti-smuggling operation around Limpopo province which is targeting mostly vehicle theft syndicates is bearing fruit.

The operation is targeting a racket that is involved in stealing cars across South Africa and smuggling them to other countries including Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania via Zimbabwe.

Most of the vehicles are being moved through the Limpopo River.

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Malasela Ledwaba on Friday said that they arrested another 33-year-old South African who was shipping a stolen vehicle to Zimbabwe en route to a yet-to-be-established destination.

He said they continue to make arrests every week of people driving vehicles to either the border or Limpopo River.

It is suspected that stolen cars are driven by South Africans to the Limpopo River and later handed over to Zimbabwean drivers who take over to the next border through Mozambique, where Malawians and Mozambican drivers then take over.

“Limpopo police continue to clamp down on illegal smuggling activities across the province, targeting hotspots known for illicit trade and smuggling activities,” said Col Ledwaba.

“During the anti-smuggling operation, which took place in the early hours of Friday, 23 February, members of the Provincial Tracking team in collaboration with private security companies arrested a 33-year-old South African male suspect and seized a pick-up truck valued at over R1 million.

“The vehicle was intercepted in Polokwane en route to be smuggled into Zimbabwe through the Beitbridge border post. The suspect was arrested following a high-speed car chase”.

He said the recovered motor vehicle was reported stolen on February 21, in Alberton, Gauteng province.

The suspect is expected to appear before Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Monday facing a charge of possession of suspected stolen motor vehicle.

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Malasela Ledwaba

Col Ledwaba said further police investigations were underway.

Last month, a 36-year-old Zimbabwean man was jailed for an effective eight years by a Mokopane Regional Court in South Africa after he was found driving a stolen car that was heading to the Limpopo River.

Cosmos Ndou was arrested by Limpopo police as they intensified a crackdown on syndicates stealing cars in that country, which they then smuggle into Zimbabwe en route to Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

The smuggling of vehicles has become rampant around the border line and the government is losing millions of dollars in import revenue annually.

A modest car is charged 96 percent import duty inclusive of VAT and surtax on the total invoice value.

Indications are that most of these cars are stolen from rental cars in South Africa while thefts are orchestrated by insurance fraud syndicates in that country.

On insurance fraud, the vehicles are clandestinely sold and smuggled out of South Africa, after which their owners working with syndicates then report them stolen and claim insurance money.

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