SEVERAL police officers involved in rampant smuggling activities at the Beitbridge border post were last week rounded up in a raid led by senior officers.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/OWN CORRESPONDENT
Last week The Standard exposed how Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials, police and soldiers were working in cahoots with smuggling syndicates both at the border post and through illegal entry points.
According to sources, a team led by officer commanding Matabeleland South, senior assistant commissioner Ncube visited the River Range area to see for themselves reports of widespread massive smuggling early last week.
Other officers on the crack team reportedly included assistant commissioner Sigauke, superintendent Mumanyi and assistant inspectors Agoshitinyu and Majoni, who went on the midnight raid.
The raid also included Beitbridge district commander chief superintendent Phiri and his assistants Superintendent Horeka and inspectors Foster and Zhou.
During the visit they came across numerous illegal roadblocks manned by officers from Beitbridge Rural and subsequently arrested them.
They also raided several police officers who were reportedly leading smugglers with scotch carts — the usual mode of transport used to transport the contraband from the South African side to the Zimbabwean side.
Since the introduction of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 that prohibited the importation of several goods from furniture, groceries and others, smuggling has been on the rise.
Sources in Beitbridge said the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) was willing to fire those implicated in smuggling cases and other underhand dealings.
At one point ZRP was forced to transfer the entire force in Beitbridge in a bid to curb nefarious activities by police in the border town.
“A number of police officers in Beitbridge are involved in many illegal activities, just like what we witnessed before.
“There are efforts to curb such practices and several raids will be conducted and those implicated will face the music. There have been a lot of complaints, particularly on the side of police and Zimra officials,” said the source.
“Imagine that some police officers have gone to the extent of owning donkey-pulled scotch carts where they employ runners to smuggle the goods.
“The officers then make sure that the contraband arrives safely and is handed over to the owners without any hassles. They say no one will stop them.”
According to a leaked police memo, some Beitbridge policemen ordered smugglers to increase bribe money before being allowed to take away goods smuggled through an informal point.
The policemen together with Zimbabwe National Army Support company member Corporal Mawarire then slept on guard protecting the donkey carts with the smuggled goods while villagers sourced the cash.
Ncube’s team intercepted a man with three scotchcarts, one loaded with two double beds and other goods. He told the police he had been asked to find more money, says the report.
Police also found several cars waiting for smuggled goods. On the way back at around 00:40 hours, the team passed through Beitbridge Rural roadblock and arrested one police officer who was improperly dressed and using his private vehicle at a roadblock.
During a visit by The Standard in Maroi area, a uniformed police officer was leading a two tonne truck with contraband from South Africa.