The Sunday News
Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
SOUTH African authorities have intensified measures to curb the illegal movement of goods across the Limpopo River and last week arrested two Zimbabwean women with explosives worth R1,2 million and also recovered smuggled cigarettes worth R800 000.
The arrests were made by the neighbouring country’s serious organised crime unit, the Hawks between Tuesday and Thursday in Thohoyandou and Makhado towns. Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke said they arrested two women last Tuesday who were travelling from Thohoyandou to Gauteng with an assortment of explosives.
“The two women were arrested following a tip-off as they were about to board a bus to Thohoyandou.
“They have since appeared at the local magistrate court where their case was postponed to 9 March and they were remanded in custody pending further investigations,” said Capt Maluleke.
He said on Thursday they made another breakthrough after intercepting cigarettes which were being transported from Zimbabwe to South Africa in a Nissan NP300. Capt Maluleke said the arrest was made in Makhado Town.
“We gathered information about a vehicle that was reportedly transporting illicit cigarettes from Zimbabwe into South Africa. The vehicle was spotted driving along the N1 highway and an attempt by the police to stop it was made but it sped off. The suspects reportedly jumped off the vehicle and evaded arrest, abandoning the vehicle in the process,” he said.
He said they later found the abandoned vehicle, a Nissan NP300 that was reportedly stolen in Honeydew, Gauteng loaded with illicit cigarettes.
Capt Maluleke said the car was loaded with boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes with an estimated street value of over R800 000 and were seized.
“The Hawks are still hunting down the suspects and appeal to anyone with information that can lead to their arrest to contact the nearest police station,” he said.
It is understood that almost 30 percent of the cigarettes on the South African market are from Zimbabwe.
Statistics from the South African Revenue Services (SARS) show that a total 82 689 043kg of tobacco were imported from Zimbabwe between January 2010 and March 2015.
These include imports of Cigars, Cheroots, Cigarillos and Cigarettes, of Tobacco or of Tobacco Substitutes. Duty charged by South African authorities ranges from R6,21 per 10 cigarettes to R278,82/kg, depending on the type of cigarettes.