The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has intercepted four haulage trucks belonging to Blue Star carrying an assortment of smuggled goods and 21 border jumpers.
The trucks, which were travelling from South Africa via Beitbridge Border Post, had been declared to be empty. Border authorities said the contraband worth thousands of dollars in excise duty was intercepted at around 3am on Saturday.
The said Blue Star had been contracted to ferry platinum from Zimbabwe to South Africa, and that normally the trucks would return from the neighbouring country empty.
"An alert customs officer intercepted the trucks and took them for scanning and searching, leading to the discovery of an assortment of restricted goods and 21 border jumpers," said a border official who preferred anonymity.
"The trucks and the goods were in turn seized by Zimra, while the illegal immigrants, all Zimbabweans, were taken to the Department of Immigration for further management."
The official said the customs authority was still preparing an import duty schedule for the seized goods. Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele said he was yet to get details on the matter.
Zimra's acting board secretary, corporate and communications Ms Ropafadzai Majaja, could not be reached for comment yesterday. By the end of day yesterday, the four trucks were still parked at the border on the exit section.
Assistant regional immigration officer- in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Notius Tarisai said he was yet to get information on the fate of the 21 border jumpers.
Sources from a team made up of police, customs and other security departments said the matter was still under investigations. The incident brings to seven the number of haulage trucks that have been bust while on a smuggling missions at Beitbridge Border Post in recent months.
Early last month, the team intercepted two South African registered tankers belonging to Wardens, carrying a combined 80 000 litres of petrol, which had been declared as Jet A1.
Under the country's customs laws, one requires a permit to import petrol, which attracts excise duty at the rate $0,45 per litre, while Jet A1 is duty-free. A fortnight ago, a Noble Shipping truck carrying 38 000 litres of petrol was seized with a contraband belonging to Velvetea Enterprises of Zvishavane.
The Herald is reliably informed that in most cases, the syndicates make false declarations claiming that they are shipping paraffin, bulk cooking oil or soya oil to evade paying import duty.