Thupeyo Muleya: Beitbridge Bureau
The Ferret team has intercepted three South African-registered vehicles believed to be part of a smuggling syndicate transporting prohibited goods to Bulawayo through Beitbridge Border Post early this week.Two Toyota Quantums towing trailers were intercepted on Tuesday midnight, while carrying 1 360 boxes of cooking oil, 119 boxes of wine, 11 boxes of candy sweets and 39 boxes of éclair pops chocolate.
A third car, a Toyota Hilux, which was being driven by Donovan Mpofu of Luveve in Bulawayo, was busted yesterday carrying 89 boxes of cooking oil.
The three vehicles and the goods were seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). The value of the goods is yet to be ascertained and three suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.
The Ferret team is made up of officials from Zimra, police, immigration and other security agencies. Matabeleland south police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele said he was yet to get details on the matter.
However, sources close to investigations said the vehicles were intercepted during routine border patrols.
“Searches were conducted leading to the discovery of an assortment of goods worth thousands of dollars in import duty,” said a border official who did not want to be named.
“The goods and the vehicles have been seized by Zimra,” he said. “Efforts are being made to send the three suspects to court,” he said.
The official said they had intensified patrols in light of an upsurge in smuggling of prohibited goods into the county through the border and other illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River.
A fortnight ago, the same team intercepted two South African trucks en-route to Harare carrying a consignment of detergents worth $30 000 in import duty.
The suspected owners of the contraband under-declared the goods and paid a paltry $2,910 for both trucks instead of $29 924,50.
The smuggling of goods through the country’s borders heightened from July last year after Government removed various commodities including food items, building materials, furniture, toiletries and cooking oil, from the open general import licence.
The goods now require a permit prior to importation and travellers are allowed to bring in limited volumes once per calendar month.