Police officers arrested for smuggling stolen vehicle

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South Africa’s organised crime unit, the Hawks have arrested nine people including five policemen and one immigration officer from the neighbouring country on corruption charges, fraud and smuggling of stolen vehicles into Zimbabwe.

Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo province, Captain Matimba Maluleke said the suspects were arrested on Monday and Tuesday during an operation code-named “Mirror.”

He said the group had been under surveillance for two years.

“The nine suspects aged between 32 to 51, including five police officers and a Home Affairs official were arrested on January 22 and 23 in Limpopo for alleged corruption, fraud and smuggling of suspected stolen vehicles out of South Africa, ”said Captain Maluleke.

“The arrests are a culmination of a Hawks’ investigative project dubbed “Mirror” aimed at addressing corrupt and illegal activities which includes, smuggling of suspected stolen vehicles through Beitbridge Border Post.

“The five police officers who were stationed at Tom Burke SAPS and the border post as well as the home affairs official and three runners, were under Hawks’ radar since 2016 following complaints from members of the public,” said Captain Maluleke.

He said preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects allegedly forged documents to facilitate the smuggling of stolen vehicles through the Beitbridge Border Post.

Captain Maluleke said one of the police officers, Sergeant Israel Mandiwana who is stationed at Beitbridge has since appeared before a Makhado magistrate’s court.

The accused have been remanded in custody until February 1 for a bail application.

Captain Maluleke said Mandiwana’s accomplices will appear in different courts today.

“We are not leaving any stone unturned as we seek to reduce cases of cross-border crimes relating to smuggling and theft of motor vehicles,” he said.

More than 40 people have been arrested in the last 12 months for smuggling stolen vehicles into Zimbabwe from the neighbouring country through the Limpopo River.

The smuggling of vehicles between Zimbabwe and South Africa’s border is rife amid reports that most of the cars are destined for Tanzania and Malawi while others find their way into the local market

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