Police arrests 4500 people over smuggling


Abel Karowangoro

Police have arrested 4 500 people in connection with smuggling of goods including alcoholic beverages and
onions from South Africa.

According to the police, the increasingly popular brand, Mayfair – a gin cooler and Bardo wines as well as
onions are among the most smuggled, as syndicates have taken over Beitbridge border.

Resultantly, local markets have been awash with South African products that evade paying duty, depriving the taxman while also killing local production.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Republic Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said that narrests will continue.

“Currently there is an ongoing blitz that is being conducted by the police in arresting people who are smuggling goods into the country.

“On 10 July we arrested people at Beitbridge Border post, who were smuggling onions, alcohol, potatoes
and handbags,”Nyathi said.

“We arrested Tatenda Madzana (28) and Tawanda Gonyora (35) in Beitbridge for operating smuggling
syndicate.” He said.

He further revealed that they are using undesignated routes to smuggle onions and alcohol into the country and the police is on high alert.

“I want to warn the general public that the police will apprehend all perpetrators involved in smuggling,
“Nyathi said.

According to sources close to the investigation, smugglers have been capitalising on various techniques to bring contraband goods across the border undetected.

While alcohol is concealed in creatively modified compartments of vehicles or mixed with legitimate shipments, onions are camouflaged among legal cargo to avoid arousing suspicion.

The strategic concealment of these goods require a high level of coordination and inside knowledge, suggesting the involvement of well-organised networks.

“Currently onions and wines are on high demand in Zimbabwe and the smugglers are making money as they evade duty on the products.”

“Wines such as Bardo and Mayfair have sprouted in the market and most of them are smuggled,” he said.

“Onions from South Africa are costing ZAR 90.00 which is approximately to US$ 3 dollars per pocket and are
being sold for US$13.

“These people are making high returns because they are not paying duty on the products,” he adds.

What raises further concern is the alleged involvement of some ZIMRA officials and clearing agents in facilitating the illicit trade.

These individuals, whose roles are to ensure compliance with customs regulations and tax collection, are allegedly turning a blind eye to the murky activities or actively aiding the smugglers in exchange for hefty bribes.

Last year Michael Mutanga former (Zimra) sealing officer deployed at Beitbridge was jailed for an effective 30 months for facilitating smuggling of an assortment of alcohol beverages worth US$187 257 in import duty.

Head of Corperate Affairs at Zimra Francis Chimhanda could not respond to the questions until the time of publishing.

This collusion between those meant to uphold the law and smugglers has resulted in significant revenue losses for the Zimbabwean Government and an uneven playing field for legitimate traders.

The consequences of this illegal trade extend beyond mere financial losses. The influx of smuggled alcohol
poses serious health and safety risks, as these unregulated products may contain harmful substances and additives.

Moreover, local producers and importers who follow the proper channels are facing unfair competition, leading to potential job losses and decreased investment in the country’s economy.

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