The South African Police Service (Saps) on Tuesday night intercepted a consignment of Zimbabwean-made Pacific Blue cigarettes and banned skin creams worth about R14,5 million being smuggled into their country.
BY REX MPHISA
The contraband was intercepted at the Groblersbrug Border Post between Botswana and South Africa, some 270km south-west of Beitbridge in the Limpopo province.
The Hawks, South Africa’s police crack unit, also arrested two Zimbabwean women found with explosives — emulsion blasting cartridges and case fuses — with an estimated street value of over R1,2 million.
In a Press statement on Wednesday night, Saps Limpopo province spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said: “On Tuesday night, February 11, 2020, Saps intercepted two trucks at about 2150 hours and arrested three suspects. This was after they were found transporting illicit creams and cigarettes worth R14,5 million.
“The two trucks approached the border post from Botswana and as a routine after crossing into South Africa, the drivers were directed towards the searching bay.”
He said 521 boxes containing various skin lightening creams namely Betasol, Diproson, Epiderm, Movate, Lemonvate and Extra Clear valued at R13 518 960 and 30 cartons of Pacific Blue cigarettes valued at R4 473,19 were recovered.
“The suspects, aged between 39 and 47, are expected to appear in Phalala Magistrates Court soon,” Mojapelo said.
It is suspected the cigarettes, which formed a small part of the contraband, were first smuggled into Botswana and were now being taken to South Africa’s lucrative illicit markets.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials have in the past intercepted millions of dollars worth of cigarettes at the country’s borders with Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.
The two Zimbabwean women found with R1,2 million worth of explosives were arrested in the north-eastern town of Thohoyandou near the Kruger National Park. They also face a charge of border jumping.
“The Limpopo Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team have arrested two women aged 27 and 41 for unlawful possession of explosives in Thohoyandou on Wednesday February 12, 2020,” said a Saps statement.
“The team received a tip-off about two women from Zimbabwe who were in possession of explosives destined for Gauteng. The two people matching the description of the suspects were spotted in one of the lodges in Thohoyandou and their movements were constantly monitored.
“The suspects were arrested as they were about to board a bus to Gauteng. Explosives, emulsion blasting cartridges and case fuses with the estimated street value of over R1,2 million were seized.”
The suspects were expected to appear in the Thohoyandou Magistrates’ Court yesterday on charges of unlawful possession of explosives and contravention of the Immigration Act.