Abel Zhakata and Tendai Gukutikwa
A DARING smuggler allegedly drove a tanker loaded with 31 000 litres of fuel from Mozambique across Murongwezi River in Chipinge in a bid to evade paying import duty.
Following the heavy deployment of law enforcement agents along known smuggling routes around Mutare, smugglers have established new routes and have found a safe haven in Chipinge.
However, alert detectives who had been tipped-off of the crime tracked and caught Romeo Chingwaro (28) of Harare a few kilometres after he had driven the tanker into the country.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Luxson Chananda said the suspect is facing smuggling charges as defined in Section 184 of the Customs and Exercise Act, Chapter 23:04.
He said on July 28, an officer from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) received information that a fuel tanker intended to smuggle fuel into Zimbabwe using an undesignated crossing border point in Jongwe Village, Chipinge.
The Zimra officer teamed up with three officers from Support Unit and Chikurubi Urban before proceeding to Murongwezi River.
Upon arrival, they found the tanker parked adjacent to the river.
The team approached the truck driver and interviewed him.
The driver told them that his tanker was carrying 18 000 litres of diesel and 13 000 litres of petrol imported from Mozambique.
The team asked for import documents, but the driver failed to produce them.
The tanker was subsequently impounded and escorted to ZRP Mutare Rural, together with Chingwaro.
Detectives are yet to establish the owner of the fuel.
Meanwhile, a 24-year-old Dangamvura man was last week slapped with a six-month jail term after being convicted of smuggling 21 bales of second hand shoes.
Innocent Muzanamombe who was also in possession of a bale of second hand clothes was convicted on his own guilty plea by Mutare magistrate, Ms Rumbidzai Kabasa, for contravening Section 174 (2) (b) of the Customs and Excise Act, Chapter 23:01.
She sentenced him to six months imprisonment, of which three months were suspended on condition that he pays a fine of $30 000.
The remaining three months were wholly suspended for the next five years on condition of good behaviour.
Ms Ann Chibvongodze prosecuted.
In smuggling the bales of second hand clothing and shoes, Muzanamombe prejudiced the State of $241 896 in unpaid duty.
Ms Chibvongodze said last week on Wednesday, police received a tip-off that Muzanamombe intended to smuggle the contraband from Mozambique using an illegal crossing point.
A ambush was set up near Mutare Junior Government Primary School and Muzanamombe was intercepted while trying to drive into Mutare’s Central Business District.
When police officers tried to stop him, Muzanamombe sped off.
Police gave chase and cornered Muzanamombe near Mutare Polytechnic after firing warning shots at him.
A search was carried out, thereby leading to the recovery of bales of second hand shoes and clothes.
He failed to account for the goods and was immediately arrested.