Zimbabwe now major cocaine market

HARARE – There are growing fears that Zimbabwe has become a new hub for dangerous drugs, including cocaine — following the arrest last week of two alleged drug mules at Harare International Airport.

The two, both women — a Zimbabwean and a South African — were coming from Brazil when they were nabbed, with police of the belief that there is now a thriving local market for cocaine dealers.

The Zimbabwean woman appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday on charges related to the smuggling of 3,8kg of cocaine worth $304 000 — which was hidden in 11 new shirts that she carried.

The woman, Beauty Mutashu — who is 32 and of no fixed abode — was remanded in custody to tomorrow, after prosecutor Oscar Madhume noted that the cocaine she had been caught with was substantial.

The court heard that on May 12 this year, detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) — Drugs and Narcotics section —  who are stationed at Harare International Airport, were tipped off that Mutashu was coming from Brazil abode an Emirates flight, carrying dangerous drugs.

It is alleged that when the plane landed in the country, Mutashu was found in the possession of two bags which were searched in her presence, and in which the cocaine was recovered — leading to her immediate arrest.

Earlier in the week, the South African woman, a Masinga — who also used Emirates airline — was similarly arrested at Harare International Airport after suspicions that she had ingested cocaine.

A scan later confirmed the suspicions, establishing the presence of ingested “body packs” in her abdomen.

Initially, her lawyer, Nickiel Mushangwe, had opposed her being scanned, arguing that she was pregnant and that this would have serious health repercussions for her unborn baby.

This led to her being sent for a pregnancy test which tested negative — and paving the way for the CT scan to be undertaken.

“A second ultrasound confirmed that the accused person is not pregnant, hence a CT scan was done without any fear of tampering with her alleged baby,” prosecutor Michael Reza said.

Home Affairs deputy minister, Obedingwa Mguni, told the Senate in February this year that dangerous drugs were being smuggled into the country.

“A lot of people think they will come through the official border post. No, there are areas where they just cross into a country without being detected.

“However, we have implemented new technology. We are bringing in drones that are able to fly, patrolling along the border post.

“We have an inter-ministerial committee which involves Finance and other ministries like the ministry of Mines where we are now buying those machines so that they can fly to take care of those boundaries to see who is crossing so that we search those people. Most of the drug carriers are using such areas,” Mguni claimed as he addressed senators.

In October last year, a Chinese man who was arrested at his Avenues home in Harare, for possessing cocaine, told the court in his defence that the dangerous drugs belonged to police.

Yu Yazhou, who is the owner of Rui-Tai Investment —  a gold extracting company —  said two police officers were the owners of the cocaine.

Recently, South African authorities made the largest haul of cocaine at Beitbridge border post, with that country’s Revenue Service (SARS) seizing 80 kilogrammes of cocaine worth a staggering R23 million which was being smuggled from Zimbabwe.

SARS said the supposedly empty truck carrying the drugs originated from Malawi, meaning that it had crossed two of our borders and travelled freely throughout the country before being nabbed in SA.- Daily News

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