Bus caught up in BronCleer smuggling storm
By Langalakhe Mabena and Bruce Ndlovu
Luck finally ran out for a Bulawayo man who was smuggling BronCleer cough syrup into the country when he was caught, for the second time this month, at Beitbridge Border Post on Tuesday as he tried to sneak in two boxes of the banned cough mixture.
Timothy John Ndlovu was caught red-handed by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials during a routine inspection of passengers goods on an Intercape bus travelling from South Africa to Zimbabwe.
This was not Ndlovu’s first brush with the law, as he was caught early this month trying to smuggle the same cough syrup on a City Liner bus.
For his latest smuggling run, Ndlovu allegedly wrapped two boxes with a black plastic tightened by tape in the hope that it would evade the scrutiny of border officials.
However, during the goods inspection, the wrapping caught the attention of Zimra officials who then asked for the owner of the goods to reveal himself.
After Ndlovu owned up to the suspicious goods, the two boxes were opened and the officials found that there were four cases of BronCleer, each containing 50 bottles of the intoxicating syrup.
All in all, the boxes contained four hundred bottles, which sell for US$3 per bottle in Bulawayo, have a street value of just over a thousand dollars.
While it is illegal in Zimbabwe, BronCleer costs R8,00 in neighbouring South Africa and has been described as that country’s most abused over the counter drug.
Intercape Africa Operations manager Riaan Maloney confirmed the incident. He said that the company was aggrieved by the actions of Zimra officials who fined the cross border bus service US$5 000 for travelling with smuggled goods.
“I can confirm that there is a passenger who was caught on Tuesday trying to smuggle eight cases of BronCleer.
However, we were unfairly treated by Zimra as we were fined US$5 000 for a crime we had no knowledge of. The law does not allow us to search the luggage of our customers, if we were allowed we were going to rectify the issue”, said Maloney.
Maloney also stated that he will sit down with other cross border bus companies so they could engage Zimra and Government in order to be granted permission to search customers’ luggage before departure.
“On 6 September this year, this same person was caught trying to smuggle the same illegal substance while he was travelling on a City Liner bus and they were also fined the same amount.
“As cross border bus owners we must engage with Zimra and the Government so that they give us the go ahead to search our passengers’ luggage before departure because at present the constitution does not allow us to do so,” said Maloney. B Metro