Zimbabweans steal fuel worth R3 million in South Africa

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Two Zimbabweans charged for alleged theft of fuel worth R3million in South Africa have been denied bail at the Warden Magistrate court and their trial has been postponed to March 24.

Owen Muterede   (38) and Huggins Nyamutamba (43) have been languishing in remand prison since their arrest on December 29, 2019 and their trial had a false start last month when the prosecution failed to get the services of a Shona interpreter.

The duos was arrested by the neighbouring country’s specialised crime unit, the Hawks for allegedly stealing petrol and diesel at a Transnet station in Warden, the Free State.

Hawks spokesperson, Warrant Officer Lynda Steyn said yesterday the accused persons were denied bail and further remanded in custody.

“Both accused persons have been denied bail and the case has been postponed further until the 24th of March 2020. They are in custody,” she said.

According to the police Muterede and Nyamutamba had loaded the fuel in four tankers and they were arrested following a tip-off while transporting the fuel to Gauteng Province.

Warrant Officer Steyn said the tankers were intercepted near a farm in Presentkraal Street and seized pending further investigations.

Illegal deals of fuels between Zimbabwe and South Africa orchestrated by various rackets have become perennial at Beitbridge Border Post.

A few months ago three South Africa registered tankers were intercepted at the same port of entry carrying a combined 116 000 litres of petrol that had been smuggled from the neighbouring country.

In February 2017, Zimra intercepted four fuel tankers which entered the country carrying 140 000 litres of diesel purportedly destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, the fuel was offloaded in Chitungwiza and the tankers were filled with water.

Later in July (2017) the revenue authority smashed another massive fuel smuggling scam at Beitbridge border pots and intercepted two tankers carrying 40 009 litres of petrol worth R233 000, which had been declared as Jet A 1 petrol.

Under the country’s customs laws Jet A1 is imported duty-free.

It is alleged that in most cases syndicates make false declarations claiming they are shipping in paraffin, bulk cooking oil or soya oil to evade paying import duty.