Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
A bid for freedom by two Zimbabweans, who were recently arrested for stealing fuel worth R3 million in South Africa, hit a brick wall on Tuesday when their bail hearing was further postponed to January 21.
Owen Muterede (38) and Huggins Nyamutamba (43) have been in remand prison since their arrest on December 29 last year.
They were arrested by the neighbouring country’s specialised crime unit, the Hawks, for allegedly stealing fuel worth more than R3 million at a Transnet station in Warden, Free State Province.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the pair was arrested following a tip-off while transporting the fuel to Gauteng Province.
“The matter was remanded to 21 January at the Warden Magistrates’ Court for bail application,” he said.
“The suspects are facing charges of theft and damaging essential infrastructure.”
Cpt Ramovha said four tankers were loaded with stolen diesel and petrol and were intercepted near a farm in Presentkraal Street.
He said they had since been seized pending further investigations.
“This incident is one of many cases which we are investigating,” he said.
The incident comes a few months after authorities at Beitbridge Border Post intercepted three South Africa- registered tankers smuggling a combined 116 000 litres of petrol from the neighbouring country.
The tankers were intercepted while about to leave the border post after the mobile cargo scanner shade and the three drivers were asked to produce customs clearance documents and failed.
The smuggling of fuel is rampant through the country’s ports of entry.
It is also alleged that in most cases, the syndicates made false declarations claiming they were shipping in paraffin, bulk cooking oil or soya oil to evade paying import duty.