Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Fruits,vegetables smuggling syndicates emerge

Fruits,vegetables smuggling syndicates emerge | The Herald


Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
There has been a notable increase in the number of syndicates smuggling genetically modified vegetables and fruits from South Africa into Zimbabwe via Beitbridge.

The importation of genetically modified products is banned under the country’s customs laws and is only possible with a permit obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture.

It is reported that the criminals are using illegal entry points along the Limpopo River mainly the western parts of the border town to move contraband into the country.

A source within the Ferret Team made up of security agents and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) anti-smuggling unit, said yesterday that they intercepted a truck on Sunday evening that was carrying 470 boxes of smuggled tomatoes, which were destined for Mbare in Harare.

The source said the syndicates were smuggling potatoes, apples, tomatoes and onions in to the country.

“They are smuggling the contraband through Gate 2 along the border-line near MaRoyi Farm in South Africa.

“They then load the loot into haulage trucks at Total Service Station for dispatch to various parts of the country mainly Harare, Kwekwe and Kadoma,” said the official.

It is understood that a box of tomatoes costs between $15 and $20 at the local farms. Both police officer commanding Beitbridge district, Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri and Matabeleland South acting spokesperson Assistant Inspector Loveness Mangena could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, a border official who requested anonymity, confirmed that the contraband of 470 boxes of tomatoes had been seized by Zimra pending destruction.

“No arrests have been made but we are reliably informed that the police are handling the investigations,” the official said.

According to the official, last week the Ferret team intercepted three commuter omnibus (Kombis) and two small trucks (2 tonnes) that were offloading smuggled tomatoes into Trucks parked at Total Service Station.

Zimra’s acting board secretary, corporate communications and international affairs, Mr Jephat Mujuru said so far they had intercepted six smugglers and recovered 609 boxes worth R30 450 over the past two days at the country’s border with South Africa.

“Smuggling is an illegal and underground activity, which destroys the economy and Zimra is on high alert following the information that we have gathered concerning smugglers of tomatoes,” he said.

“We have put in place several measures to curb smuggling and these include; carrying out borderline patrols in collaboration with law enforcement agencies to curtail use of undesignated and illegal crossing points and roadblocks are also conducted in collaboration with law enforcement agencies to curb smuggling.

“We also do post-importation audits to verify whether imported goods were properly cleared for Customs purposes.

“In addition, non-intrusive inspection equipment (scanners) are used to verify correctness of declarations made by importers at ports of entry.”

According to Mr Mujuru the authority was running a whistleblower’s facility under which an individual who provides specific information that results in the recovery of revenue would be entitled to 10 percent of the recovered amount. He said they have also alerted other security agencies to be on alert and to work together in containing smuggling activities.


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