Police bust international vehicle smuggling syndicate
POLICE in Victoria Falls have intercepted five vehicles with a combined estimated value of about $350 000 suspected to have been stolen in South Africa.
The vehicles — three Toyota Fortuners and two Land Rover Discovery 4s — were reportedly on the International Police (Interpol) stolen property list.
Five suspects, all South Africans-Willem Schalk Janzen Roets (63) and Burges Clint Joseph (41), Bongani Bhengu, Gordon Raholane and Philip Ngorima were arrested in separate incidents at the Victoria Falls Border Post on Tuesday allegedly attempting to smuggle the vehicles out of the country through the port.
Roets and Joseph were driving two Range Rovers while Bhengu, Raholane and Ngorima each drove a Fortuner as they attempted to cross into Zambia.
The five are suspected to be part of gangs hunted by Interpol for theft and smuggling of vehicles in the region. The fleet of stolen vehicles was destined to Zambia and Tanzania where they are suspected to have a ready market.
The five separately appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate Ms Lindiwe Maphosa last week, each charged with theft.
Roets and Joseph were represented by Mr Thulani Nkala of Dube and Company.
The magistrate remanded the two in custody to December 1 while she remanded Bhengu, Raholane and Ngorima in custody to November 30.
Prosecuting, Mr Takunda Ndovorwi said the accused manufactured fake registration books and number plates to smuggle the vehicles.
“In separate incidents, the accused stole the cars and manufactured registration books. They processed police clearance and letters of authority authorising them to drive from South Africa via Zimbabwe in transit to Tanzania and Zambia,” said the prosecutor.
The court heard that Roets was allegedly on his way to Zambia with a Range Rover worth close to $100 000 when he was caught on Tuesday while Joseph was arrested driving a similar make on the following day with an estimated similar value.
Bhengu, Raholane and Ngorima were arrested separately later, each driving vehicles worth close to $50 000 each.
The court heard that Roets and Joseph allegedly separately stole two vehicles in Johannesburg while Bhengu, Raholane and Ngorima broke into an NNT garage in Vryheld South Africa on October 27 and stole the three vehicles. — @hurricanefloe