Main News Zimbabwe

8 buses seized in smuggling racket

BY REX MPHISA

EIGHT conventional  buses have been impounded along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo and Beitbridge-Harare highways since last week for allegedly aiding the smuggling of goods from South Africa, NewsDay has learnt.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed yesterday that the buses were seized in a joint blitz involving police, army and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.  He said the buses were intercepted after leaving Beitbridge Border Post where various smuggled goods including groceries, clothes, electrical gadgets, among others, were recovered.

“The ZRP confirms that since last week, eight buses which were travelling from Beitbridge to Bulawayo and Harare have been impounded for smuggling groceries, clothes, electricals and other items into the country.

“The police are, therefore, warning bus operators to avoid being used as conduits by smugglers who board buses in Beitbridge en-route to various towns or cities across the country,” Nyathi said. One of the bus operators said they will appeal against the seizure.

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“It’s not my business to ask a passenger where they have bought their stuff. All I do is load and charge,” he said.

Government recently launched an operation where police and soldiers from other areas other than Beitbridge handle all border operations and curb smuggling activities.

The impounded buses were reportedly abusing their passenger permits and carrying commercial goods.

“The border post is not yet open for buses, but some operators pretended that they were carrying returning residents, yet they were smuggling goods,” a source revealed.

Zimbabwe has not yet opened its borders with South Africa and smugglers have been sneaking into the neighbouring country to buy goods, which are then smuggled by the buses.

At times the smugglers work with organised syndicates who cross the Limpopo River using boats. Zimbabwe is reportedly losing nearly US$1 billion a year in unpaid customs duty through smuggling activities.

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