Drug smuggler walks away from police

The vehicle contained the banned Benylin cough syrups which contain codeine sold on the illegal drug market.

A DRUG dealer intercepted at Beitbridge Border Post with dagga and prohibited cough syrups slipped away under the nose of dozens of security officials at Zimbabwe’s most patrolled border post.

Security officials, notorious for demanding bribes from ordinary travellers, crossborder transporters, bus operators and shipping agents, have failed to account for the suspect, Southern Eye has established.

The incident happened on Thursday last week.

Some stakeholders believe the security officers were bribed.

There are more than 100 security agents from different government arms at the Beitbridge Border Post.

Acting commanding officer of Beitbridge police district Superintendent Philisani Ndebele said the driver was not found.

“The driver disappeared from the scene,” Ndebele briefly told Southern Eye last week.

But stakeholders in Beitbridge said the incident exposed widespread corruption involving police officers, customs and excise officers, private security guards and officers from the President’s Department at the border post.

“There are two explanations, that the officers are at the border for something else rather than the country’s security or they colluded with the suspect,” said one Beitbridge resident.

“Ask anyone, there is a heavy presence of security officers from different departments whose sole purpose is to check and arrest smuggling and illegal movement of people across the border. How do you explain that a suspect simply walks away?”

Events leading to the interception were interesting, according to witnesses.

The vehicle, a Toyota Quantum minibus headed for Bulawayo, was stopped for routine check-up in the “Malume” section of the border which handles small-scale cross-border transporters.

Sniffer dogs gave away the suspect, resulting in customs and excise officials targeting the trailer of the vehicle.

At that point, the driver and his crew took advantage of the melee to walk away.

The vehicle contained the banned Benylin cough syrups which contain codeine sold on the illegal drug market.

It also had about 24 kilogrammes of dagga.

Investigations by Southern Eye showed that the same vehicle was intercepted recently with at least 74 kilogrammes of dagga.

“He simply walked away after realising something was wrong,” said a witness.

“Proper handling of the case should have had the driver secured and a search on his vehicle done in his presence. How do officials explain his disappearance when they are employed to secure such people? What is their purpose?”

Police later issued a statement confirming the interception of the contraband, but did not speak of any arrests.

Zimbabwe is battling to contain a drug scourge with reports showing that most illegal intoxicating substances are being smuggled from South Africa.

A source at Customs and Excise said: “Of late, we have been intercepting dagga dealers bringing the drug from South Africa.”

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