Two Cigarette Smugglers in Court

Two truck drivers from Zimbabwe driving gasfuel tankers with smuggled cigarettes headed for South Africa appeared in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with smuggling.

The duo was arrested last Wednesday night with the two trucks with 1 130 boxes of cigarettes worth N$11.3 million concealed in secret compartments in the trucks designed to transport liquefied natural gas.

Both Lyson Malangiza (35) and Trust Marudza (46) were informed of their legal rights and their right to solicit the services of a public lawyer when they appeared in court on two charges. They face charges of contravening Section 14 (a) read with Section 1 and 91 of the Customs and Excise Act 20 of 1998 – non-declaration of goods upon entering Namibia – as well as contravening Section 6 (c) read with Section 1, 10 and 11 (1) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 29 of 2014 involving money laundering.

The case was postponed to July 8 for further police investigations and the two were denied bail due to the seriousness of their case.

They appeared before Rundu magistrate Esmee Molefe while Albert Titus prosecuted.

The two were arrested after customs and police officials discovered that the two tankers were transporting illicit cargo consisting of 1 130 boxes each containing 50 bars with 10 cigarette packets each with a street value of N$11.3 million. Custom officials and the police searched and found the large cigarette boxes concealed in the fuel tankers headed for South Africa.

The two trucks both white, have South African registration numbers. Their cargo was seized and they are now parked at the Rundu customs office. According to the papers the suspects presented to custom officials, the two had transported gas to Zimbabwe. Both drivers initially showed papers indicating the tankers were empty but a thorough search revealed huge contraband.

The tankers had secret openings below them (just where the tankers connect with the truck) that were securely screwed and could not be easily detected. However, the curious customs and police officers had to unscrew the openings to see what was concealed inside. “We have been following these trucks after our officials got suspicious. How does one drive through Namibia to South Africa from Zimbabwe if you are not loading anything? That is a long route,” customs controller, Augustinus Philip Chiseke, told New Era last week Thursday.

Godwin Mwilima, the chief customs and excise officer for enforcement and operations for north-east regions based in Rundu, said the two truck drivers were arrested following a joint operation involving both the police and customs.

“After getting information from our colleagues at the border that there were two suspicious gas tanker trucks headed our way, with assistance from the police we started the investigation,” stated Mwilima.

Source : New Era