A SOUTH African haulage company whose truck was impounded by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) after it was intercepted at the Plumtree Border Post with R26 million worth of smuggled sea snail, has approached the court seeking the release of the vehicle.


The driver, Santos Lourenco Nhamache (45) and a passenger, Carlose Lourenco (43), both Mozambicans, were accused of concealing the snails, also known as abalone, in secret compartments of the truck.

A third unnamed accomplice believed to be the owner of the contraband escaped after pretending he was going to buy airtime to call the owner of the truck they were using.

A scanner at the Plumtree Border Post detected the presence of the sea snails leading to their arrest. The sea snails, a variety of shell fish, are a delicacy in most parts of the world.
Fouries Poultry Farm (Pvt) Ltd, the owners of the truck used in smuggling the snails, through their lawyers, Masawi and Partners, filed an application for review at the Bulawayo High Court citing Zimra Commissioner-General Ms Faith Mazani and Mr Nicholas Nkomo, a Zimra regional manager in charge of Plumtree Border Post, as respondents.

The company is seeking an order nullifying the respondents’ decision to forfeit its truck. They want Zimra to release the truck. The firm also wants Zimra to be barred from charging storage fees as at November 27 last year when they made their representations.

Fouries Poultry Farm said the decision by the respondents to forfeit its truck, a South African registered Hino Super F, to the State was not justifiable and baseless, arguing that there was no evidence that the purpose of the compartments found in the truck were specifically meant to conceal the contraband.
“The decision to order forfeiture of the truck (registration number JFW 101 NW) to the State was made capriciously without any justification. The decision to forfeit the truck was done on the ground that an offence was committed premised on malice as it was never proved that the purpose of the compartments were to conceal smuggled goods,” argued Fouries Poultry Farm’s lawyers.

The lawyers said the company should be exonerated from any wrongdoing following the acquittal of its driver.

Santos and Carlose were acquitted by Plumtree magistrate, Mr Taurai Manwere, on charges of using a vehicle with a secret compartment adapted for the purpose of concealing goods.
According to State papers, on September 4 last year, Santos and Carlose and a third person, who is still at large, arrived at the Plumtree Border Post from Botswana in the South African registered Hino Super F truck that was being driven by Santos.

They later drove to the Zimra scanning shed at the border post and Santos surrendered his passport and an empty manifesto to a Zimra official and proceeded for scanning of the vehicle.

During the scanning process, an image analyst noticed some small balls in the vehicle and alerted Mr Lewis Sibanda who is a Zimra scanner.

Zimra officials conducted a physical check of the vehicle in the presence of the two men and their accomplice and discovered a secret compartment.

The pair’s accomplice, whose identity is unknown, told the Zimra scanner that he wanted to make a call to the owner of the vehicle so that he could verify what was in the car.
He went away under the pretence of buying airtime but he didn’t come back. Zimra officials found 72 cartons of abalone weighing 1 672 kilogrammes. They were seized by Zimra officials and Santos and Carlose were arrested. The abalone was valued at R26 752 000.