By A Correspondent- Police in Matebeleland South have smashed a well-orchestrated smuggling syndicate at Plumtree Border Post and recovered five smuggled Honda Fit vehicles, including some an assortment of goods illegally brought into the country from Botswana.
In 2021, Government outlawed the importation of vehicles older than 10 years in a move that is meant to revitalise the local motor industry, reduce the import bill and cut greenhouse emissions.
Under Statutory Instrument 89 of 2021, second-hand vehicles manufactured 10 years ago, except commercial vehicles and those for agricultural purposes, are no longer permitted into the country.
Government said the importation of second-hand cars is contributing to road carnage and also worsening pollution thereby hampering efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The Honda Fit vehicles that were being smuggled into the country were manufactured more than 10 years ago.
The demand for the cars, which are mostly used as pirate taxis, created a market for smugglers to bring the cars into the country illegally.
A Chronicle news crew last week visited Plumtree Border Post and saw some of the smuggled cars parked at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) customs yard following their seizure.
Smugglers have resorted to cutting the security perimeter fence near the border to create illegal entry points.
In an interview, the acting officer commanding police in Bulilima and Mangwe districts Superintendent Rosemary Mangena said they impounded a number of Honda Fit vehicles during a crackdown on smugglers.
“There are vehicles which are brought into the country illegally as the vehicles were manufactured more than ten years ago.
“In Mbwenda we have recovered four Honda fits and recently a Toyota Runx,” she said.
Supt Mangena said alcohol and groceries were usually smuggled through Mpoengs Border Post especially now when businesses are targeting to cash in on the festive season.
She attributed rampant smuggling to porous borders and a lack of adequate resources to conduct patrols.
“The challenge that we have is the size of the border line which stretches from Mayobodo up to Maitengwe Border Post, which makes it difficult to patrol due to lack of resources.
“There are no roads on our side of the border unlike in Botswana where they have the veterinary fence,” she said.
Supt Mangena said they rely on the good relationship they have with locals who provide vital information.
“The Honda Fits are bought in Botswana and smuggled into the country as most of them are more than 10 years old so they cannot be imported according to regulations,” she said.
Supt Mangena said they conduct routine joint operations with their Botswana counterparts while traditional leaders have formed crime liaison committees to help curb criminal activities along the border.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana.
The country’s porous border posts will soon be under tight surveillance following Government’s decision to acquire drones worth US$2 million to patrol the borders as part of measures to curb smuggling.