Police in Bulawayo Wednesday arrested three suspects over smuggling and recovered three luxury vehicles that were smuggled into Zimbabwe via Limpopo River.
The three suspects, one of them a South African, were arrested in Bulawayo by traffic police who were patrolling the city centre.
The recovered vehicles, a Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD6 RB and two latest ranges of Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 RB VX DSL have South African number plates and are suspected to have been stolen from the neighbouring country.
In South Africa, a Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD6 RB costs slightly above R500 000 while the market price for a Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 RB VX DSL is about R800 000.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said they first arrested Nkosiyabo Mbambo (29) during a patrol in the city centre and he led them to his accomplices Nomathemba Ncube (40) and Karl Hebst (27), the South African. He said:
Our traffic officers were on patrol when they intercepted Nkosiyabo Mlambo while he was driving a Toyota Hilux GD6.
Upon checking the papers of the car, they became suspicious and subsequently contacted their superiors before they arrested him.
Further investigations were conducted leading to the other two suspects at some lodges in Bulawayo where they were booked.
Investigations by police established that upon arrival at the illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River, the suspects deflate tyres so that they are able to navigate the river.
After crossing the river, they then put pressure and proceed.
Ncube added that it was not the suspects’ first time to smuggle cars using the same strategy and it is believed that they could be operating as a syndicate involving others.
He said the three suspects are facing charges of smuggling but there is a likelihood that more charges would be brought up as investigations continue to establish how the cars were acquired.
The latest arrest comes barely a week after the National Security Task Force intercepted and impounded five vehicles laden with smuggled goods as the Government scales up efforts to crack down on crime along the border with South Africa.
Five people were arrested in connection with the matter while the four commuter omnibuses (kombis), a Hino truck and the contraband were seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).
Smuggling of vehicles and other contraband is rampant due to the country’s porous borders.