FIVE people, including an official with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), have been arrested for allegedly being involved in the theft of tantalite minerals which were meant for export at Dar es Salaam Port.
Addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam, Transport Minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe said the suspects were arrested under a special police crackdown led by the Senior Assistant of Police.
The suspects include, the TRA official, Mohammed Mbutu, boss of GFC Clearing and Forwarding Agency, Francis Mtalemwa and his Executive Director Christopher Andrew, the Principal Technologist with the Tanzania Minerals Agency (TMA), Godson Juma Mkeni and the owner of Rod Holdings Clearing and Forwarding Agency, Glen Baniaux.
He named other suspects yet to be arrested as Hamis Haji, an Intelligence Officer, the owner of Damco Clearing and Forwarding Agency, Judith Ilango Muhina and her assistant Edward Bachwa. "Three suspects are being questioned by the police and would soon join the rest at the suspects in police custody for further legal action," he said.
Dr Mwakyembe said that during the police search the suspects were found with a cargo containing 44 tonnes of tantalite minerals ready to be exported to Rome, Italy. According to Dr Mwakyembe, the suspects had an export permit indicating that the minerals were being excavated in the country.
"The permit indicates that the cargo had carried the minerals worth 22,000 US dollars, which is not true," he noted adding that details were forged to fulfil their interests through theft. According to the mineral experts, Dr Mwakyembe said one kilo of tantalite minerals is worth 207 US dollars.
He questioned the real value of the 44 tonnes. The minerals that were on transit were stolen from the International Container Depots (ICD). And they were being exported through the Dar es Salaam Port from Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. Dr Mwakyembe said that the search came following complaints by government officials from Rwanda concerning the theft or loss of their cargo containing tantalite on export at the ICDs, Dar es Salaam port.
"They had requested to come into the port but we had to intervene immediately over the issue," he said adding the suspects will be taken to court soon after investigation is over to answer charges.
Meanwhile, Dr Mwakyembe has asked police at the Dar es Salaam Port to acquire an arrest warrant to arrest a suspect from DRC identified as Christian who is said to have issued the consignment to the suspects. The suspect, who is at large, would be arrested by International Police (Interpol) if the local police efforts fail to succeed.