THREE Zimbabweans and a South African were arrested in Limpopo province for allegedly teaming up and smuggling cigarettes worth $200,000 into the neighbouring country.
The Zimbabwean trio, Takuzo Mutswiro, 22, Tatenda Nyamhunga, 31, Joseph Mhembwe, 27 and Gilbert Mamburu, 54, a South African from Tshiozwi village in Limpopo province, were arrested last week at Tshilwavhusiku near Thohoyandou after police intercepted a truck they were using to transport the cigarettes.
Limpopo provincial spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto, in a statement, said police followed up on information they received about suspicious activities at Mamburu’s house.
“Upon arrival at the scene, the three Zimbabweans attempted to run away, but we managed to apprehend them.
“We found the cigarettes with an estimated value of more than R2 million hidden in a small truck as well as a light delivery truck,” said Col Otto.
“We suspect the cigarettes were smuggled from Zimbabwe but we’re still investigating to determine their origin as well as their destination”.
The quartet appeared at Tshilwavhusiku Magistrates Court last Friday on charges of possessing cigarettes. Mamburu was released after paying R10,000 bail while the three Zimbabweans were remanded in custody after failing to secure money for bail. The four will again appear in court on Friday.
Lately there has been an increase in the number of cigarette smugglers being arrested in the neighbouring country.
Some of the cigarettes are smuggled out of the country through undesignated entry points along the crocodile-infested Limpopo River while others find their way into South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post despite the presence of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) scanners.
The machines are able to detect concealed goods hidden in sealed containers.
The South African Revenue Services reportedly charges high rates on cigarette imports, which has resulted in a marked increase in cases of smuggling between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Most of these cigarettes are repackaged when they get to South Africa before being shipped to either Europe or Asia.
According to the South African Revenue Services (SARS), Beitbridge Border Post accounts for 70 percent of the cigarettes which are smuggled into that country.
A recent statement from the South African Police Service said cigarette smuggling from Zimbabwe was being prioritised after it emerged the country supplied 55 to 70 percent of the 10 billion cigarettes reaching the neighbouring country’s black market.
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