Locals claim police are complicit in car smuggling to Mozambique

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Residents of Mbuzini in Mpumalanga, which borders Mozambique and Eswatini, have accused police of being part of a syndicate that smuggles vehicles to Mozambique. This follows the continued smuggling of vehicles from the area.

Since January this year, syndicates have allegedly stolen more than 50 cars and driven them across the border into Mozambique. Mbuzini is one of the many villages where cars are smuggled.

Mbuzini village looks quiet as you drive in, but deep under its a crime den. Residents allege that, in this village SUVs and bakkies are being smuggled to Mozambique in broad day light.

It is alleged that stolen vehicles are driven through this route adjacent to the Samora Machel Monument. Residents allege that when cars are stolen, local police officials escort the drivers through the village with state vehicles.

Now residents fear for their lives. Some community members are said to be working with alleged car thiefs and they are known to the community.

“As residents of Mbuzini, we are too concerned about car smuggling, every day we see a lot of cars, passing from South Africa to Mozambique, SUVs, bakkies almost every day around 3 o’clock in the evening and 9 o’clock,” a community member says.

“The police are involved because when cars are ready to cross, you see the police after crossing the car and sometimes, we see the police before the car cross that’s why we say police are involved,” another community member explains.

“I think the community in Mbuzini is helping the car smugglers, it’s because they don’t have jobs. There’s nothing they keep themselves busy with, so when the criminals come and bribe them to smuggle cars, they agree and also clean the roads where the cars are being driven,” a community member elaborates.

One of the victims whose car was hijacked this week in Nkomazi says he believes his SUV was smuggled to Mozambique. The vehicle has not yet been recovered.

“People pointed at me with a gun and took my car and took me to Nyoni farm where they left me and reported to the police station. The police did not come on time, later on they assisted me, and we got to call my tracker, they said the tracker was jammed at the border of Mozambique,” says Vusimuzi Mpofu.

Mpumalanga police say they are working hard to curb the crime.

“The allegations could be true; we had an incident where one police officer was arrested in possession of a vehicle that was reported stolen and has since resigned. And we also have another case which is being investigated by the Hawks, where two traffic officers were involved, however, police are working hard to fight the smuggling of vehicles,” says Mpumalanga police spokesperson Donald Mdluli.

Last week, five people believed to be kingpins in smuggling of cars in the Nkomazi area, where brutally killed allegedly by the community.

Residents are calling for more police visibility around area.