BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
SANGO Border Post principal immigration officer, Wilbert Muneri (36) and his accomplice Kennedy Ainos Mutanhaurwa (31), a second-hand clothes dealer, appeared at the Chiredzi Magistrates Court on Thursday facing charges of smuggling six high-calibre rifles out of the country.
They were arrested on Monday at a boomgate in the Gonarezhou National Park after they were found with the weapons.
Chiredzi magistrate Simbarashe Gundani heard that on the day of their arrest, the two were travelling in a Mazda B2200 vehicle to Sango Border Post using the Rutenga-Sango Road.
Their arrest took place after they had passed other security checkpoints and were at the last boomgate exiting Gonarezhou National Park, leading to the recovery of the rifles.
During interrogation, the court heard, Muneri revealed that they were transporting the rifles to a Mozambican national known as Mateus Bertel Novela, whom he befriended in 2015.
According to Muneri’s warned and cautioned statement, the Mozambican claims to be a sports agent who usually comes to Zimbabwe to scout for talented young footballers.
In November 2020, the court further heard, Novela called him instructing him to go to Rutenga to meet someone who was going to give him “something” and he would be paid for the service.
The deal went on well and he was given five pistols wrapped in a sack by one Clive Kadangure from Harare.
He transported the consignment and was given Mozambican meticais equivalent to US$500.
Muneri and Mutanhaurwa also said they were given six rifles by one Wonder Kwaramba, a former member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Support Unit based in Mwenezi.
They successfully delivered them to Novela, whom they met at an illegal crossing point along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border and were paid.
On March 11, 2021, Kadangure, who supplied the first consignment, was supposed to bring another consignment, but failed because he had to attend to a funeral.
He then called Muneri on March 15, 2021 informing him that he was bringing the consignment on the same day. Kadangure allegedly handed over six rifles to Muneri and Mutanhaurwa at Mukambi turn-off along Rutenga-Sango Road, a few hours before the pair’s arrest in Gonarezhou National Park.
The two pleaded not guilty and magistrate Gundani remanded them in custody to March 31.
Kadangure has since been arrested in Chinhoyi and is set to appear in court soon.
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