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    Saturday, 27 April 2019

    Syndicates smuggle millions worth of goods through Chiredzi

    •    Senior Army, Police officers implicated
    •    Powerful politicians behind syndicates


    CHIREDZI –   Well organised syndicates allegedly involving Zimbabwe National Army members, senior Police officers and some Zimra workers are allegedly smuggling millions of dollars worth of goods through Sango Border Post and Chikwalakwala in Chiredzi thereby prejudicing Government of the much needed revenue.
    Two prominent politicians have been named in the smuggling syndicates and they include a top Zanu PF politician from Beitbridge (name supplied) who is allegedly smuggling cigarettes and a top MDC Alliance politician in Gweru (name supplied) who is allegedly smuggling second hand clothes bales.
    State of the art vehicles stolen from South Africa are smuggled through Chikwalakwala and are provided with safe passage by security operatives. They are immediately supplied with number plates and books from Zimra and sources said there are cases in Zimbabwe where as many as five cars are using one number plate because of corruption.
    Some of the smuggled cars are destined for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
    Sources also said that Chiredzi area has many trendy cars including Mercedes Benz, VW Amaroks and Isuzu twin cabs that were illegally smuggled out of South Africa and Zimra has so far impounded over 50 of them.
    Also illegally using Chikwalakwala are border jumpers who pay R300 each to security agents in order to be allowed to cross the border without the required documents. If they fail to pay the amount they are assaulted.
    Some members of the Police force who are said to be in the syndicates have allegedly never been transferred for the past 10 years to allow them to stay in the area.
    The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Mike Madiro asked The Mirror why they were calling him about the issue before hanging up, implying that he was not the right person to comment although the Police fall under his ministry.
    Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Paul Nyathi said he was attending bereavement and could not comment while Masvingo spokesperson Assistant Inspector, Kudakwashe Dhewa said he will make enquiries as he had not been informed about the matter.
    ZNA spokesperson Lt Colonel Alphios Makotore advised The Mirror to get a comment from 4 Brigade spokesman, Captain Francis Chanduru in Masvingo who not audible on the phone.
    The top Zanu PF politician could not reached but a Minister in his office said he could not comment on his behalf, but advised The Mirror to approach the Police if they come across such cases so that a docket is opened against the criminals.
    The senior MDC Alliance politician was not picking his mobile phone until the time of going to Press.
     Well placed sources including senior politicians who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Mirror that the situation has become worrisome.
    At Sango border post fuel is smuggled from Mozambique into Zimbabwe while different brands of cigarettes are moved from Zimbabwe into Mozambique. The trucks involved in the smuggling use a route that is just one kilometer away from the official border post and security at the border post can actually see the trucks crossing to and fro but they do nothing about them since they are also suspected to be part of the syndicate.
    The Mirror visited the border post this week and was told that soldiers actually accompany vehicles with smuggled goods right into Chiredzi or other towns to give them safe passage.
    Sango border post is also notorious for the smuggling of bales of second hand clothes into Zimbabwe. The smugglers from the Mozambican side are called Guarados.
    The senior politician who is into smuggling cigarettes has an agent (name supplied) who comes to Chikwalakwala every week before the trucks carrying cigarettes arrive. The agent makes all the necessary logistics including paying bribes to members of the syndicates.
    Several traditional chiefs who spoke to The Mirror on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals said they are worried about the syndicates.
    Centre for Community Development Initiatives (Gaza Trust) Director Hebert Phikela said Chief Sengwe had been calling for a creation of a border post at Chikwalakwala since its busy but the calls are falling on deaf ears. He said such a post would curb smuggling.
    Vehicles especially lorries that come from Harare, Gweru and Kwekwe bring tonnes of cigarettes and swap loads with Mozambican vehicles which bring bales of clothes under the watchful guard of armed police and soldiers who will escort them to Chiredzi or Rutenga.
    Involved officers are mainly based at Dumisa base, Sango border post and Gezani Police.
    “We normally see those trucks and kombis in the evening. They depart Sango border post at around 6pm so that they reach their destinations in Gweru or Harare in the early hours of the next morning. These vehicles don’t stop along the way and they are dangerous. They are escorted by an armed cop and a military officer who will be seated with the driver. The vehicles start moving from Wednesdays to Saturday of every week” said a community leader who requested anonymity.
    Tiyani Chilonga who is a community leader in Chilonga said at one time villagers intercepted a truck full of bales of used clothes and brought it to ZIMRA Chiredzi. He said the trucks pass through Chilonga on regular basis during the night.
    A named senior officer at Chikombedzi Police Station uses his vehicle that was illegally brought into the country to protect smugglers, said a source. He is untouchable since he is connected to the police top brass at Chiredzi.
    The officer said he knows nothing about the smuggling and blamed jealousy workmates for taking the story to The Mirror when asked for a comment.
    At least over five ZIMRA officials were suspended or fired at Sango Border Post for corrupt activities.

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