MASVINGO – Livid cross-border traders who went through more than a dozen roadblocks from Beitbridge to Masvingo went berserk on Friday night and sent Zimra officials and an armed Police officer running for dear life when they were about to be subjected to yet another search.
The Zimra officers were given a thrashing before they sensed more danger and took to their heels.
One of their cars, a Mazda 3 was badly damaged after the cross-border traders smashed its windscreen and door handles in a bid to pull out one of the Zimra officers, a woman who had locked herself inside. The officer only bolted out of the car when the angry passengers collected firewood, placed it underneath the car and threatened to set it alight.
Apart from smashing the car the crossborder traders took away the car keys and went away with them.
The victims of the attack were Zimra driver Davison Mushure and two Zimra officers Ratambwa and Mushore who are all said to be based at the Zimra offices housed in Zimre Building in Masvingo.
The armed Zimbabwe Republic Police cop is said to have fled in a different direction as the melee unfolded.
The incident happened at around midnight on Friday near the Mushagashe Tollgate some 40km outside Masvingo along Masvingo-Harare Road.
Both Police Spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula and Zimra Acting Regional Manager Brighton Rombe declined to confirm the incident.
However, a senior official at Thunder Run, a towing company in Masvingo confirmed that they removed the Mazda 3 (ABG -4012) after it was badly damaged by the cross-border traders. Zimra has of late been reporting financial results that far exceed its targets despite the hard economic times that have left most companies on the edge.
Zimra spokesperson, Taungana Ndoro could not be reached for comment until the time of going to print.
A source at Zimra also confirmed the incident. Sources at Zimra said a customs crew was stopping buses at Panyanda Lodge roadblock 10km before Masvingo as one travels from Beitbridge and escorting them to their yard in town for routine searches.
At one stage the roadblock was left with no officers after they had accompanied two busses to the yard. It is then that the bus carrying passengers who were eventually involved in the nasty incident passed the place but was spotted as it entered the city and the Zimra officers gave a chase using two cars, a Nissan NP300 (ACX-2568) and a Mazda 3.
“Upon approaching the Mushagashe toll gate the bus crew turned right into a bush road and the officers followed knowing very well that there is no through road and they parked their two vehicles and blocked the bus from getting its way back into the main road,” said a source.
It is at that point that the passengers and the bus crew disembarked and headed towards the parked cars with the customs crew inside relaxing thinking that the passengers had come to comply and negotiate.
Without warning the officers found themselves on the receiving end with passengers pummelling them hard.
The officers including the cop disappeared into the bushes.
Acting regional manager Rombe professed ignorance over the matter.
“I am not aware of the matter and it is a customs issue and the regional manager customs is not at work may be he could have known,” said Rombe despite the fact that the two damaged cars are in the Zimra car park that is below his office.