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Cigarette smuggler busted over R10 000 bribe

by Staff reporter
03 Mar 2022 at 05:36hrs | Views
A cigarette smuggler landed in even hotter water when he tried to bribe an army officer with R10 200 to release his vehicle which had been intercepted laden with crates of South Africa-bound Remmington Gold cigarettes.

Popula Ndou (35) was arrested on February 26 in the Zwaphele area along with Mashudu Moyo (19), Fred Ncube (34), Fredyman Moyo (38), Edwin Ndou (27), Joyman Muleya (24), Bibian Nsingo (18), Tavonga Moyo (27), and Joel Masevhe (21).

The same team also arrested Alfred Muleya and seized a boat he was allegedly using to transport illegal migrants and smuggled goods while the Limpopo River was in flood.

Ndou pleaded not guilty to a charge of bribery when he appeared before Beitbridge Resident Magistrate Mr Takudzwa Gwazemba yesterday, but was remanded to March 24 on $20 000 bail pending trial.

Prosecuting, Mr Ronald Mugwagwa told the court that on Saturday at around 8pm, Ndou instructed an accomplice known only as Godfrey, who is still at large, to drive his Toyota Hiace (AFK9811) to the Limpopo River laden with 11 crates of Remmington Gold cigarettes and a team of eight porters.

The plan was to get the cigarettes into South Africa by carrying them across the river and selling them there at a profit, all in foreign currency, as the smugglers took advantage of the high South African tobacco taxes.

But around an hour later as the vehicle approached the river it was intercepted by a national security task force team which included soldiers and police officers.

As the team pounce, Godfrey fled leaving the porters to carry the can. They were arrested.

The court heard that Ndou went to the scene and approached one of the army officers and handed him R10 200 as a bribe to release the vehicle and the cigarettes. The officer had a better idea.

He turned down the bribe and summoned police officers in the team. They arrested Ndou and impounded the bribe money, so Ndou was in handcuffs and his vehicle, his cigarettes and his money were all in the hands of the Zimbabwean authorities.

Zimbabwe and South Africa have tightened security to thwart illegal activities, especially smuggling and the irregular movement of people between the two countries.

The move has resulted in the arrest of over 90 000 people for border jumping and smuggling-related cases over last year.

Source - The Herald