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23 arrested for grocery smuggling through Limpopo river

by Staff reporter
28 May 2020 at 08:04hrs | Views
TWENTY-THREE people have been arrested and $1,5 million worth of groceries seized from smugglers who bring in the contraband through the Limpopo River while 21 vehicles were impounded by the authorities since the lockdown started.

The arrests and seizures took place at different locations along Limpopo River's illegal entry points from South Africa. The seizures took place during the COVID-19 lockdown period, which started on March 30.

In response to questions from Southern Eye this week, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) spokesperson Francis Chimanda said all recovered goods were groceries.

"General description and values of goods detained is groceries and the estimated value is $1 514 366,60," he said.

"Vehicles (carrying the goods) were intercepted by State security agents and Zimra in some instances and were intercepted at various illegal entry points," he said.

After the border at Beitbridge was closed in compliance with World Health Organisation recommendations to stop the spread of coronavirus, scores of people led by Beitbridge residents took to the river to smuggle goods bought from Musina.

It is estimated that millions of dollars' worth of goods have since been imported through the illegal points stretching from Shashi to Crooks Corner, the 350km course of the Limpopo River forming the border with Zimbabwe.

The illicit trade has, however, not been one-sided.

South African nationals have also been crossing into Zimbabwe for beer.

Beitbridge residents, whose town is devoid of industry, have approached the government to make arrangements with Pretoria to have periodic breaks during which they may be allowed to shop.

A source from Zimra said the residents' request had been forwarded to Harare.

The source hinted that orderly arrangements where only transporters could buy on behalf of different clients were a possibility but strict streamlining was required.

Non-commercial cross-border transporters have been blamed for disorder at the border post and the lockdown enabled Zimra to restrategise on how to handle the otherwise essential service providers now likely expected to be compliant with taxation.

Cross-border transporters survive on daily errands to Musina ferrying goods for thousands of shoppers between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Source - newsday