SOPHISTICATED cartels in this country have smuggled almost a fifth of the luxury cars, which are on our roads, or have used various loopholes to ensure the vehicles did not pay full duty.
H-Metro investigations, triggered by a huge influx of a number of people being arrested and appearing in court over such cartel dealings, have revealed a grim picture of an underworld network that has its tentacles just about everywhere.
“It’s some Wild West out there,” one of our sources in the motor industry told us.
“It’s about having the right connections, knowing who should be paid so that they look the other way and beating the system so that the cost of bringing the car in is either minimal or there isn’t any cost at all.
“No system in the world is fool proof and it’s those loopholes that many dealers take advantage of and a lot is happening.
“The luxury cars on our roads right now, I would say at least, about 20 percent, have been smuggled or they didn’t pay the full duty and that is some conservative estimates.”
The sources said at many car sales, especially those concentrating on luxury cars, the vehicles disappear whenever a police operation is launched.
“If you notice carefully, you will see that there are a number of car sales, especially those which deal with expensive cars, whose vehicles are moved away from the garages every time there is a police operation.
“It’s all about covering their backs and ensuring that they cover their losses because such cars could be impounded and they end up incurring huge losses.
“It’s a sophisticated network and some of these dealers are tipped way before the operations are launched, they have their sources and their friends in very good places.”
In the past few weeks, a number of dealers, accused of leading a cartel that smuggles vehicles into the country, have appeared in court.
Some of them have been accused of conniving with other officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA), Central Vehicle Registration (CVR) to fraudulently registered smuggled vehicles into the systems of the relevant institutions.
Meanwhile, police have made a total of 88 602 arrests and impounded over 1 700 vehicles since launching “Operation Tame the Traffic Jungle” mainly targeted at mushikashikas.
In a statement, national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said the campaign was launched due to the state of lawlessness on the country’s roads, where drivers are regularly flouting road traffic rules.
Out of the total arrests, 2 192 were for vehicles without route permits, 26 874 mushikashika operators, 430 for reckless driving and 6 555 for touting.
Additionally, 1 742 vehicles have been impounded for moving on roads without registration plates.
“Licenced public service vehicles are contributing to the congestion and chaos by loading and unloading passengers at undesignated points and openly endangering the lives of the public through reckless conduct at controlled road intersections and traffic lights,” said Ass Comm Nyathi.