A Mutare businessman Edward Muhamba and another man from Harare, recently arrested for violence involving suspected smugglers of second-hand clothes near Christmas Pass, have been freed on $50 000 bail each.
Fierce violence broke out a few days after police had seized over 700 bales of second-hand clothes and impounded a number of trucks on separate occasions.
The bales were smuggled using undesignated points in Penhalonga and Burma Valley.
The warring parties accused each other of leaking incriminating information to the police and causing the seizure of the smuggled clothes and vehicles. Muhamba (38) and Simon Muzonzini (45) were not asked to plead to public violence when they were arraigned before Mutare provincial magistrate Mr Langton Mukwengi.
They were freed on $50 000 bail each, with the consent of the prosecution. They will be back in court on July 26. Police managed to arrest 11 suspects at the scene of crime but only two have so far appeared in court.
Travellers could neither drive into nor out of Mutare as the warring groups’ vehicles temporarily blocked the road.
According to information gathered by the police, the fight involved a group led by Muhamba and another one led by a man only identified as Dzingai, who is still at large.
According to the State papers, on July 10 in the afternoon, Muhamba and Muzonzini met one Dzingai, who was accusing them of causing the arrest of two of their smuggling partner, Anyway Chinyanga and the seizure of smuggled bales and trucks.
A misunderstanding ensued resulting in the parties shouting at each other and fighting using sticks and metal rods.
Some vehicles belonging to Muhamba (a Scania truck and a Toyota Land Cruiser) were damaged in the fight.
Dzingai and his accomplice, according to the State papers, were injured but they managed to escape.
Muhamba and Muzonzini were arrested.
During the same period, police received another tip off and arrested two armed men who were escorting trucks ferrying smuggled bales of clothes in Nyazura.
They recovered 553 bales of second hand clothes, 13 boxes of cellphones and packs of Mariana rice, which had been smuggled from Mozambique.
Anyway Chinyanga (39) and Stanely Dzemwa (50) who were using smaller cars, were arrested while the drivers of the two trucks fled.
They have since appeared in court.
The pair’s vehicles had shattered windscreens after clashes with rival smugglers in Mutare but they refused to make a police report.
Police also seized two trucks and 157 bales of clothing in Burma Valley but the drivers and their assistants escaped.
The arrests and seizures followed an investigative story by The Herald that exposed rampant smuggling of clothing bales and fuel through an undesignated point in Burma Valley.
Of late, control of the porous border near Mutare had reportedly been taken over by smuggling cartels.
The cartels had become powerful and so daring, to the extent of hiring earth-moving equipment to clear and periodically repair gravel roads passing into Mozambique through undesignated points.
Armed former security officers were hired to provided escort services.