Po­lice bust in­ter­na­tional ve­hi­cle smug­gling syn­di­cate

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Florence Ncube

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

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