Ray Bande and Lovemore Kadzura
LAW enforcement agents’ efforts to bring smuggling cartels to book have resulted in them turning against each other and assisting in investigations that have seen some being apprehended, The Manica Post can reveal.
Smuggling cartels in Manicaland stand accused of illegally importing bales of second hand clothes, alcohol and fuel, among other things.
Following the heavy presence of law enforcement agents along some smuggling routes, the syndicates are now accusing each other of working with State security agents to thwart the illicit operations.
All hell broke loose at Christmas Pass in Mutare as violence pitting suspected smuggling cartels broke out last week on Saturday, resulting in vehicles getting smashed, while people were injured.
Though it was initially understood that the dispute was over the control of illegal routes connecting Zimbabwe and Mozambique, it has since emerged that suspicions of availing information to security agents were at the heart of the brawl.
During the Christmas Pass clash, motorists could neither drive into nor out of Mutare as the warring groups’ vehicles temporarily blocked the road.
Mutare businessman, Edward Muhamba, who owns a farm in Burma Valley along the border with Mozambique, was among the 11 people who were arrested in connection with the violence.
Upon being granted $50 000 bail, Muhamba revealed to The Manica Post that the ongoing wars have been triggered by distrust among the dealers.
“I decided to effect a citizen arrest on the smuggling syndicates as they were soiling my image. They were accusing my alleged smuggling cartel of bribing security agents.
“They even went on the extent of creating a social media message purporting that I bought houses for senior security agents, which is laughable. How can I buy a house for someone else when I am still residing in Chikanga?
“The source of this conflict is that they (rival smuggling syndicates) believe that I am now teaming up with the police in curtailing their operations. I have not bribed anyone in the police force, the army or any other security service you may think of. I challenge anyone with evidence of the supposed bribery to come forward with it,” fumed Muhamba.
He went on to distance himself from any smuggling activities.
“A good number of individuals is behind these smuggling activates but I am no longer a part of it. I was last actively involved in smuggling sometime in 2017. The road we used to smuggle goods from Mozambique near my farm is no longer passable,” he said.
Meanwhile, two members of rival smuggling syndicates allegedly exchanged fire in Nyazura last weekend over unknown reasons.
The duo appeared in court early this week.
They were facing charges of smuggling bales worth millions of dollars.
Anyway Chinyanga (39) and Stanley Dzemwa(50)– both from Harare – were arrested after villagers in Zunidza, Nyazura, witnessed the exchange of fire and informed the police of the development.
The duo was granted $50 000 bail each by Rusape magistrate, Ms Annie Ndiraya.
Chinyanga was separately fined $10 000 after pleading guilty to moving around with an unlicensed loaded pistol with four rounds of ammunition.
Prosecuting, Rusape District public prosecutor, Ms Event Dhliwayo said Chinyanga and Dzemwa’s trucks were carrying bales of shoes and clothes, as well as foodstuffs.
“On July 10, police received information that there were vehicles with smuggled goods in Nyazura. The police proceeded to the scene and found Chinyangain a vehicle that had a shattered windscreen, a dismantled dashboard and deflated tyres.
“Chinyanga led the police to a place where two other trucks were parked. The vehicles also had shattered windscreens. Dzemwa was found at the parked trucks,” said Mrs Dhliwayo.
The two trucks were searched and 379 bales of second hand clothes, 492bales of second hand shoes and food stuffs were recovered.
The truck drivers had no proof of payment of duty.
The food stuffs and trucks were taken to Nyazura Police Station, while the bales of shoes and clothes were seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
Chinyanga and Dzemwa are expected back in court on July 26.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Luxson Chananda confirmed that several smuggling cartels are accusing each other of feeding information to the police.
“The police has accounted for criminals and recovered more bales this year than any other period before. We recovered 3 512 bales of second hand clothes during the first half of the year.
“The arrests have sparked conflicts among smuggling syndicates as they suspect each other of assisting the security forces in their investigations. Rival syndicates have gone to the extent of circulating tarnishing information on social media. This development has also motivated the public to come in with tips and information on planned smuggling activities,” said Inspector Chananda.