Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
BORDER authorities here have intercepted two South African registered trucks travelling to Harare with smuggled goods worth R1, 3 million and arrested six people in connection with the matter.
The suspects were arrested on two separate occasions on Monday.
The gang was arrested by the Ferret team, which is made up of various security agents following a tip off.
According to one border official, the first truck was carrying an assortment of groceries worth R457 086.
However, the suspect had declared that they were importing grain and in the process the state stood to lose $1, 6 million in import duty.
The second truck had a contraband of groceries valued at R900 000 attracting an import duty of $2, 7 million, though they had indicated on customs documents that they were importing diapers and salt.
A source said the goods were seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority while the seven suspects were charged for smuggling.
The suspects, Tiyani Simango (32), Micheal Nkono (40), Trust Wiridzo (37), Washington Murandu (39), Rayson Kakono (42) and Stephen Zvinavashe (42), were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before Beitbridge Resident Magistrate, Mr Toyindepi Zhou.
They were all remanded to July 15 on $20 000 bail each pending trial and also instructed to report once weekly at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
The state led by Mr Manyonga Kuvarega alleged that on June 29 at around 1pm, a team of detectives from CID Beitbridge received information that there was a truck load of smuggled goods, which was on its way to Harare.
He said the police then intercepted the truck, a Mercedes Benz Truck registration number AF 17Y GP towing two trailers registration numbers RRL 234 GP and RRL 233 GP at Masvingo turn off along the Masvingo -Beitbridge road.
The truck was being driven by Nkono and had been cleared by Simango. The court heard that during police interrogations, Wiridzo and Murandu arrived and claimed ownership of the goods and produced a bill of entry number C33709 indicating that the truck was loaded with maize meal.
He said the truck was then escorted to Zimra Beitbridge Container Depot for physical checks where a consignment of 500 boxes of Maq washing powder, 760 boxes Britelite bar soaps and 478 cases Dragon energy drink, 75 boxes Nivea body lotion and 26 boxes Lux bath soap was discovered.
The goods were in turn confiscated by Zimra under seizure numbers 014108L and 014107L.
Mr Kuvarega said later that day another truck, a Freightliner, with registration numbers JB 273 GP and towing two trailers registration numbers CL 99 CK GP and CL 99 CT GP was intercepted at Whelson truck stop, Beitbridge. The truck was being driven by Kakono, who was travelling with Zvinavashe, and they indicated to the police that they had imported diapers and salt under a customs Bill of Entry number C33741.
The truck was also taken to the Zimra container depot for physical checks leading to the discovery of 800 Maq washing powder,1000 Britelite bar soaps, 919 bull brand corned meat tins, 30x12x20ml red bull, 38x24x500ml dragon, 30x2x500ml Switch energy drink,13 boxes of D’lite cooking oil,1267x12x375ml of D’lite cooking oil,448x12x400g Tomcod tinned beans from South Africa.
The truck and goods were in turn confiscated under seizure notice numbers 041109 L and 014110L respectively.
Since the beginning of the lockdown authorities have seized goods from 81 offenders at the border and impounded 21 commercial trucks.