Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
AUTHORITIES have heightened investigations into the smuggling case involving three commercial trucks which were carrying various groceries worth $14 million and US$21 000 which were intercepted in Beitbridge this week.
The smugglers are believed to be part of a racket that had declared the goods as fertiliser.
Border security personnel have arrested three people whose identity has not been disclosed pending further investigations.
It is also understood that the customs clearing agent who facilitated the shipment has gone into hiding following the discovery of the offence.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sources close to the case said the State stood to lose $13 million and US$20 000 in import duty as a result of the smuggling.
“The goods have been confiscated along with the three trucks and are being kept at a local State warehouse,” said an official. “Further investigations into the matter are underway.”
All the three trucks were South Africa- registered and were being driven by Munyaradzi Magodi, Isheunesu Mahlahla and Tafadzwa Mashiri.
“The importers were using fake customs documents and one was intercepted at the border while the other two were netted at Makhado some 100km along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo road,” added the official.
The first truck with registration numbers CR02XH GP, trailer JLl71HZ was reportedly carrying 2 200 boxes of Maq washing powder, 940 boxes Britelite soap and 25 boxes of diapers.
It is understood that the other commercial truck was laden with Maq washing powder (1 030 boxes), Britelite (375 boxes), Waves Pure Joy, Eclair pops (305 boxes), Stumbo (20 boxes), Gentle Magic (157), Gentle Magic (77), Ellis Brown Coffee (49 boxes), Nivea Men lotion (45 boxes), Hello snacks (400 boxes), Candles (100 boxes), Satiskin body wash (154 boxes), Tomco beans (48 boxes), Lifebuoy (310 boxes), and Vaseline (19 boxes).
The one intercepted at the border was transporting Maq washing powder, Britelite soap, candles, Ingrams Camphor Cream, Cremora powdered milk and baked beans, among other items.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda on Wednesday said they had tightened screws on smuggling which saw them collecting $13 million and US$120 000 in extra import duties from smugglers in the last 30 days alone.
He said between January 5 and February 5 this year, they made 47 seizures of goods compared to 22 within the same period last year.
“Between January 5 and February 5 last year we recovered duties amounting to $105 664 after making 22 seizures and this year during the same period, we collected a total of $13,8 million and US$119 000 from 47 seizures,” said Mr Chimanda.
Most of the goods being smuggled into Zimbabwe and South Africa included groceries, alcoholic beverages, used tyres, various meats, fruits and building materials.
Zimra has introduced the 100 percent search initiative on all cargo mostly being carried in light commercial trucks.
This followed an upsurge in false declarations by either the transporters or the importers.