Mozambicans in court over R26m sea snails
TWO Mozambicans who were arrested for smuggling R26 million worth of sea snails with a weight of 1 672 kilogrammes into Zimbabwe have denied the charge arguing that they were not aware that the vehicle they were travelling in had concealed goods.
Santos Lourenco Nhamache (44) through a lawyer, Mr Thobekani Nyathi of Masawi and Partners said he had been assigned to collect goods from Bulawayo while Carlose Lourenco (43) said he was a passenger in the vehicle. Sea snail is a common name for snails that normally live in salt water, in other words marine gastropods and they are of different types.
“Your Worship, my clients do not admit to committing this offence. My first client is a driver and he was hired to collect some goods from Bulawayo and take them to Botswana. He wasn’t aware that the vehicle he was driving had a secret compartment adapted to conceal goods. My second client was a mere passenger in the vehicle. He was given a lift from Botswana and wasn’t aware of the existence of goods in the vehicle,” Mr Nyathi told Plumtree magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere last week.
The two Mozambicans are facing a charge of using a vehicle with a secret compartment adapted for the purpose of concealing goods. They were remanded in custody to Tuesday for continuation of trial. Prosecuting, Mr Stanley Chinyanganya said the pair was intercepted on 4 September around 12 noon at the Plumtree Border Post after a Zimra scanner detected the presence of the concealed goods.
“On 4 September the two accused persons and a third person who is still at large arrived at the Plumtree Border Post from Botswana in a South Africa-registered Hino Super F truck that was being driven by Santos. They later drove to the Zimra scanning shed at the border post and Santos surrendered his passport and an empty manifesto to a Zimra official and proceeded for scanning of the vehicle,” he said.
Mr Chinyanganya said during the scanning process the image analyst noticed some small balls and alerted Mr Lewis Sibanda who is a Zimra scanner. He said Zimra officials conducted a physical check of the vehicle in the presence of the two men and their accomplice and discovered a secret compartment. Mr Chinyanganya said the pair’s accomplice whose identity is unknown told the Zimra scanner that he wanted to make a call to the owner of the vehicle so that he could verify what was in the car.
“He went away under the pretence of buying airtime but he didn’t come back. Zimra officials found 72 cartoons of abalone weighing 1 672 kilogrammes. They were seized by Zimra officials and Santos and Carlose were arrested,” said Mr Chinyanganya.