Petrol-smuggling tankers intercepted at Beitbridge border.
The Herald is reliably informed that the precious liquid, which has a special excise duty of between RTGS $2,20 and RTGS $2,5 per litre (or US$0,43), has since been disposed of through an auction for around US$260 000.
Authorities at Beitbridge Border Post have heightened their anti-smuggling drive following the recent interception of three South Africa-registered tankers that were carrying a combined 116 000 litres of petrol that was being smuggled into the country. It is also understood that a customs clearing agent only identified as Ngoni, who was facilitating the passage of the trucks without any documentation, has gone into hiding following the bust on April 22.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele could neither deny nor confirm the interception. “I will get back to you,” he said. However, a source within the Ferret Squad, made up of security agents and border agencies, said the tankers were intercepted just after the mobile scanner shed and that security personnel were on high alert.
The owner of the contraband is still unknown. “They were intercepted while about to leave the border after the mobile cargo scanner shed and the three drivers were asked to produce customs clearance documents and failed. In fact, they had nothing,” said the official.
“The trucks were then seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority with their products. “Upon further questioning, they indicated that the consignment was being cleared by one Ngoni, who was communicating with them using a private number.
“The first truck with a Mercedes-Benz Actros horse bearing registration number JSS767MP, tanker trailer number YBV610GP with 38 021 litres petrol was being driven by Falika Nkala of Tshabalala, Bulawayo. The seizure numbers are 021545l (truck) and 02546l for the tanker.
The official said the second tanker, horse number JSS776MP , a Scania truck with two trailers HL 41 ZN GP and HL41 ZL GP and was being driven by Sikumbuzo Ndlovu, was loaded with 42 000 litres of petrol and was put on seizure numbers 021547 L, 021548L and 021549 L respectively.
The third horse, number HL 41ZJ GP Scania, trailer number JTB810 MP, was reportedly loaded with 36 000 litres petrol on seizure number 021550L and 021551L. “The third truck was being driven by Johan Masimula. No arrests have been made as yet.
“However, we are not taking any chances to intrusive leakages through this border,” said the official. The tankers were later escorted to Malindi Transit Shed for safekeeping. It is also understood that Ngoni has since gone into hiding after the bust.
The smuggling of fuel is rampant through the country’s ports of entry. It is also alleged that in most cases, these syndicates make false declarations claiming they are shipping in paraffin, bulk cooking oil or soya oil to evade paying import duty.
In February 2017, Zimra intercepted four fuel tankers which entered the country carrying 140 000 litres of diesel purportedly destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the fuel was offloaded in Chitungwiza and the tankers were filled with water. The State has prejudiced a total of $55 650 in the scam.
Later in July (2017), the revenue authority smashed another massive fuel smuggling scam at Beitbridge Border Post and intercepted two tankers carrying 40 009 litres of petrol worth R233 000, which had been declared as Jet A 1 petrol. Under the country’s customs laws, Jet A1 is imported duty-free.
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