Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE Ferret team has arrested two Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials at Beitbridge Border Post after they facilitated the smuggling of building material worth $20 200 that was destined for Bulawayo.
The Ferret team is made up of the police, other security agencies and the Zimra Anti-Smuggling Unit.
Wisdom Matsekedza (35) and Muchineripi Hokonya (32), who are both Revenue Officers, were still in custody by end of day yesterday reportedly assisting police with investigations.
Matsekedza and Hokonya are accused of facilitating the smuggling of 500 chromatic IBR roofing sheets from the neighbouring country after pocketing a R200 bribe from a man who was transporting the contraband.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Philisani Ndebele, could not comment on the matter yesterday referring all questions to national spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi who was not reachable.
Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission’s (Zacc) commissioner responsible for investigations, Mr Goodson Nguni, commended the police and the border authorities for the arrest. “We commend the police for a job well done and we will continue working with them in bringing all perpetrators of corruption to book and taking them to court for prosecution,” said Mr Nguni.
Sources close to the investigations said the contraband and a South African registered truck had been impounded by Zimra under notice of seizure numbers 017344 and 017 345. “The two will be appearing in court soon facing charges of criminal abuse of office,” said one source.
Another border authority said allegations against the duo arose on June 10 when Hokonya was approached by one Peter Bhobho who was transporting building material from Midrand (South Africa) to Bulawayo.
The official said Hokonya was offered R200 not to subject the man’s vehicle to searches within the border.
“He then took the customs document to his colleague (Matsekedza) and they connived to allow the vehicle a smooth passage on condition Bhobho paid them a bribe of R2000.
“They then agreed to stamp the customs documents without searching the truck and that Bhobho would pay them the full amount of R2000 soon after leaving the border arena. The trio also exchanged contacts.
“Unfortunately they ran out of luck when the truck driver was intercepted by the Ferret team at the last check point before leaving the border, where it was discovered that the bulk of the consignment had not been declared,” said the official.
According to the border official, Bhobho failed to explain how he had managed to navigate through commercial mobile scanners without properly declaring his consignment.
He pretended to be collecting more customs documents from the vehicle before fleeing, leaving the keys in the ignition.
“Police detectives later caught up with Bhobho who then implicated Hokonya and Matsekedza. The duo was arrested late on Monday afternoon and the truck was taken for physical examination. It was then discovered that the IBR sheets were concealed under iron coils,” said the source.
Zimra’s commissioner general Ms Faith Mazani confirmed the arrests.