POLICE in South Africa on Monday arrested two Zimbabweans who craftly cut out special compartments in a fuel tanker to smuggle locally-made cigarettes worth R7 million across the border where demand has risen following the ban on tobacco smoking as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19
BY REX MPHISA/SILAS NKALA
The suspects, aged 36 and 44, were arrested on the South African side of the Beitbridge Border Post after cheating their way past the Zimbabwean immigration checkpoints.
In a statement yesterday, South African Police Service (Saps) said they recovered 533 boxes of Zimbabwean-made tobacco cigarettes valued at R6 993 579 after searching the fuel tanker.
“Members were busy with their routine duties at the border post when they stopped a suspicious petrol tanker which was sealed at the top,” Saps spokesman for Limpopo province Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said.
“Five hundred and twenty three master boxes containing thousands of cartoons of illicit cigarettes were found hidden in a specially made compartment in the tanker.”
It was one of the numerous hauls of cigarettes ever since Pretoria banned the sale of cigarettes in that country as a way of preventing the spread of coronavirus.
“The suspects, both foreign nationals, are expected to appear in Musina Magistrate Court tomorrow, Wednesday 22 July 2020,” Mojapelo said.
In another matter, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police last week foiled an attempt by a scrap metal dealer to smuggle 12 160 metric tonnes of copper scrap into South Africa.
This was heard by Beitbridge magistrate Toindepi Zhou when Justice Chirimuta (44) of Highfield, Harare, appeared before him on Monday charged with smuggling, unlawful possession of copper wires and wilful damage to or interference with telecommunication lines.
He was not asked to plead to the charges and was remanded in custody to August 3.
Prosecutor Munyonga Kuvarega told the court that on July 16, Chirimuta, whose business address is Nicoscape Logistics 305 Camera, 260 Wessels Street, Arcadia, Johannesburg, South Africa, was intercepted by authorities after completing customs formalities for his goods.
Upon inspection of the scrap, it was discovered that there were Zesa overhead copper cables and TelOne underground cables.
Chirimuta was arrested and the copper cables were confiscated.
Evidence proffered by the State was that on the bill of entry, only seven tonnes were declared out of the 19,16 metric tonnes.
Zesa and TelOne identified their cables and pointed out that the copper was never possessed by an individual, save for designated companies.