The Police in Matabeleland South have dismantled a sophisticated smuggling syndicate operating at the Plumtree Border Post. The crackdown resulted in the recovery of five Honda Fit vehicles, all manufactured more than a decade ago, in violation of the government’s regulations banning the importation of vehicles older than 10 years.
The 2021 legislation, Statutory Instrument 89, aimed to rejuvenate the local motor industry, cut the import bill, and address environmental concerns, citing the role of second-hand cars in road accidents and climate change impacts.
The demand for Honda Fit vehicles, often utilized as pirate taxis, created a lucrative market for smugglers to exploit, leading to the illegal entry of these older vehicles into the country. The recovered vehicles were found at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) customs yard in Plumtree following their seizure.
Acting Officer Commanding Police in Bulilima and Mangwe districts, Superintendent Rosemary Mangena, highlighted the challenges faced by law enforcement, including porous borders and resource limitations for patrols along the extensive border line.
“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,” said Supt Mangena.
She also mentioned the reliance on community cooperation and the collaboration with Botswana counterparts in joint operations to combat smuggling activities. Additionally, traditional leaders have formed crime liaison committees to enhance border security.
Smugglers, resorting to cutting the security perimeter fence, were not only bringing in vehicles but also engaging in the illegal transport of alcohol and groceries, particularly during the festive season.
To address these challenges, the government is set to deploy drones worth US$2 million for tight surveillance along the porous border posts. This initiative aims to bolster border control measures and curb the ongoing issue of smuggling, ultimately promoting national security and adherence to import regulations.