Speaking to reporters in Manica town on Monday, the spokesperson for the provincial police command, Elsidia Filipe, said the train had been carrying a cargo of wheat from the port of Beira to Zimbabwe. When the train stopped in Messica, a gang of thieves started looting the wagons. Filipe said their intention was to sell the wheat on the informal market.
Five members of the gang were caught red-handed as they moved the sacks of wheat from the wagons to waiting cars. The police seized four of these vehicles.
Filipe said it was thanks to a tip-off from the local population that the theft was interrupted and the criminals arrested. This was by no means the first such theft: Filipe said local people had seen trains stopping in the Messica area, and unloading goods several times, both in broad daylight and at night.
“We were informed of the theft and so we went there”, said Filipe. “When we arrived, we found them loading the product onto the vehicles”.
“It’s not the first time”, she added. “They change zone and they steal various goods carried by the trains going from Beira to Zimbabwe. This is a criminal network that operates throughout the Beira Corridor”.
The five thieves attempted to bribe the commmander of the Messica police post, offering him 60,000 meticais (about 875 US dollars, at current exchange rates) in exchange for their freedom. He rejected the bribe, but seized the money as evidence. The five men will thus face changes of theft and of attempted bribery.
Although not mentioned by Filipe, it seems clear that regular looting of Zimbabwe bound trains is only possible with the connivance of railway staff.Post published in: Agriculture