4 arrested for ‘smuggling army equipment’ into Zimbabwe

Harare – If you’re holidaying or travelling in Zimbabwe, a word of warning: never ever carry camouflage.

Four men have been arrested at a border post with neighbouring Botswana after they were found in possession of what the Zimbabwe authorities say were camouflage uniforms and military equipment.

Sources say privately that these were actually uniforms destined for anti-poaching scouts at a safari outfit in Mozambique and were simply being transported through Zimbabwe, News24 has learnt.

But with tensions high in Zimbabwe amid ongoing protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government, officials are accusing them of wanting to use the uniforms for riots in Zimbabwe, the state-owned Chronicle reported on Thursday.

The four were arrested on Sunday at Mphoengs Border Post in Mangwe District, according to the paper. Officials say it is suspicious that the men did not travel through Beitbridge because that border post is much closer to Mozambique (but often, much more time-consuming to negotiate). They appear to have begun their journey in South Africa.

Under Zimbabwe’s Defence Act, it is a criminal offence to sell, wear or use any uniform looking like a military uniform. Those convicted under this act risk a fine or a year in jail.

“The men are suspected to be part of a group that takes advantage of civil disturbances to assault civilians while wearing security forces’ uniforms,” the Chronicle said.

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