Zimbabwe civil aviation officers in cahoots with smugglers

Robert Mugabe Int. Airport

THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) officials are, once again, in the eye of a storm following the arrest of a suspected gold smuggler, at Oliver Tambo Airport in South Africa, who was enroute to Dubai, the Zim Morning Post has heard.

The smuggler, allegedly left for South Africa via the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport where security details could have apprehended him.

Insiders told the Zim Morning Post that officials manning international airports are working in cahoots with smugglers as they are helping them to smuggle goods in and outside the country.

Last year several Caaz officials were facing charges of conniving to switch off the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to allow for the undetected passage of the 6kg of gold by Henrietta Rushwaya who was Dubai-bound.

A CCTV is a high security 24-hour video surveillance system.

At Henrietta Rushwaya’s arrest, in October last year, Zim Morning Post heard that Rushwaya and colleagues had connived with some staff at CAAZ to momentarily tamper with operations of the CCTV system.

Allegations are that the four to five minutes CCTV stoppage time was meant to facilitate the undetected passage into the freeway of the Rushwaya contraband.

This week a 33-year-old man was on Saturday nabbed at OR Tambo International Airport while allegedlly in possession of 23 pieces of undeclared gold.

Rushwaya and others were also accused of working in cahoots with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to ensure that gold evades the attention of cameras at international airport.

The Zimbabwe gold in South Africa, said to be worth ZAR11 million (about US$800 000), is currently in the custody of South Africa’s secret service, The Hawks.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the 33-year-old suspect was arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit upon arrival in South Africa on May 8.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect had travelled from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg.

Nkwalase said the man was allegedly found in possession of 23 pieces of gold worth R11 million.

Upon arrival in South Africa, the traveller was requested to scan his own luggage at international arrivals’ customs section of the South Africa Revenue Service.

“He allegedly failed to declare any items and did not have any permits or licences to be in possession or transport gold and the Hawks were called to effect the arrest,” Nkwalase said upon the man’s arrest.

The suspect is expected to appear in the Kempton Park Regional Court on May 10 (today), where he will face charges of contravening South Africa’s Customs Act 91 of 1964 and Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005. – Zim Morning Post