Source: Police intercept 6,7 tonnes of mbanje | The Herald January 17, 2020
Takunda Maodza and Freeman Razemba
POLICE in Manicaland have separately intercepted two trucks ferrying 6,7 tonnes of marijuana (mbanje), believed to have been smuggled from neighbouring countries.
A haulage truck carrying 4,7 tonnes of mbanje was intercepted along the Nyanga-Nyamapanda Road, while another with over two tonnes was stopped by alert Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officers soon leaving Forbes Border Post near Mutare on Wednesday.
The truck ferrying two tonnes of dagga was on its way from Malawi and headed for Zimbabwe.
Its driver — who disappeared when Zimra officers started searching the vehicle — had declared it empty.
The marijuana was hidden in a false compartment specifically created for that purpose.
Briefing security agencies at Forbes Border Post yesterday, Zimra station manager Mr Langton Chuma attributed the interception of the truck to alert and seasoned officers.
“From the documents we have, the truck was coming from Malawi,” he said.
“It came to the port and declared the container as empty according to the driver. Then it moved into the country. We have a checkpoint at the T-Junction where the road from the border meets the one from Park Avenue.
“We have our team there. As experienced officers, they wanted to check if indeed the container was empty. They knocked around the container. As they were doing so, they noted from the different sounds that were coming from within that there should be a compartment inside. They asked the driver to come and assist them.”
Mr Chuma said the officers asked him to open the container, and he did so reluctantly.
The officers went in and they saw some white stuff that was in the container and asked the driver to explain, but he was no longer cooperative.
“They sought assistance from the office here,” said Mr Chuma.
“I, the regional manager, and some of our administration guys went there and as our officers were trying to control the crowd, the driver disappeared.
“He did not leave any keys. Fortunately for us, he did not go away with the documents.
“Some documents here show the truck details and the name of the driver. He also left a passport.”
Further checks confirmed the existence of a false compartment.
“When we went there, we checked and we noted that there was a false compartment,” said Mr Chuma.
“We decided to have the truck driven into GMS (Container Depot). We have some of our experienced drivers here and eventually managed to move the truck.”
All haulage trucks with imports entering Zimbabwe through Mozambique are required by Zimra to enter the GMS container depot for clearance.
“We wanted to find out what exactly was inside,” said Mr Chuma.
“We then called in the rest of the security guys.”
Mr Chuma said they used spanners which were in the vehicle to unscrew it and they discovered marijuana.
“We managed to establish that there were 93 bags and the total weight came up to 2 133, 67kg, which is 2,133, 67 tonnes,” said Mr Chuma.
The driver was still on the run by yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Nyanga-Nyamapanda Road incident occurred on Wednesday around midnight when police manning a roadblock at the 75-km peg along the Nyanga-Nyamapanda Road discovered 53x90kg bags of mbanje loaded in a containerised truck around midnight.
Four people were arrested for allegedly possessing the 4,7 tonnes of the illegal drug.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests yesterday.
“On January 12, 2020 at about 2300hrs and at the 75km peg along Nyanga – Nyamapanda Road, ZRP Ruwangwe arrested Dennis Chikumba (43), Farai Biziki (45), Mario July (45) and Aswell Marange (35), all of Harare for drug trafficking,” he said.
“The Toyota Toyoace vehicle registration number AFD 5997 that the four were travelling in was intercepted by police and 53x90kg bags of dagga were recovered.”
Asst Comm Phiri said investigations were still in progress to ascertain where the mbanje was coming from and its intended destination.
In another case, Asst Comm Nyathi said police arrested a woman called Maria Mhlanga (35) for possessing 9kg of mbanje at the 16km peg along Chipinge–Mt Selinda Road.