Politics & General News

Alcohol syndicate smashed in Byo

Police yesterday cut off a njengu distribution network in Bulawayo in what is arguably the city’s biggest illicit alcohol bust in recent years.They seized two truckloads of the outlawed booze and arrested two men suspected to be major players in the underground market.Njengu is a street name for illicit spirits that are produced illegally within and without Zimbabwe, outside of the approved and regulated production process of registered and legitimate manufacturers. The alcohol doesn’t comply with standards that ensure the quality and safety of products.It is believed that roughly 25 percent of all alcohol consumed around the world is illicit. Drinking it can make one sick or even cause death.In Bulawayo the alcohol is widespread and is mostly consumed by youths who cannot afford legal alcohol. Most of the dealers of the illicit brew operate in the market space along 5th Avenue and Jason Moyo street.Police said it was coming for everyone who sells illegal alcohol in the city.They yesterday used a seven-tonne truck to load alcohol that was found following the arrest of the dealers. So huge was the consignment that the truck had to carry two loads.He said police are deploying their intelligence teams so that they provide them with real time data in identifying and arresting the njengu dealers.Chief Superintendent Nkomo said police also believe that some of the alcohol that was recovered could be counterfeit of locally produced brands.“What you see is some consignment that has been recovered from one of the stockists in the city,” he said.“This stockist, we discovered that he does not have any papers, meaning he is not licensed to sell alcohol. We suspect that most of the products are counterfeit products, commonly known as njengu and sold in the market place between Jason Moyo and 5th Avenue.Police were yet to quantify the monetary value of njengu that they had recovered by the time of going to press.Officer Commanding Bulawayo Central District Chief Superintendent Vusumuzi Nkomo said all the illicit distributors of alcohol are on notice.“We have arrested two stockists who have been charged with operating without a liquor licence and also selling. Some of the spirits we suspect are produced outside the country and are brought into the country in large quantities to these distributors.We want to warn other distributors who are around the city that we are going to be out in full force raiding them.They should stop distributing these illegal products because they are a threat to our communities,” said Chief Superintendent Nkomo.“From the products sold here there is the Star Brand originally produced by African Distillers (Afdis), but we suspect that criminals scan the (Afdis) sticker and use it with this illicit brew that is sold mostly to youths.”He said the danger of counterfeit products is that what might be inscribed on the sticker might not be the real alcohol content in the brew. Chief Superintendent Nkomo said this could result in members of the public drinking alcohol of higher quantities than prescribed which can be damaging to their health.He said the unregulated alcohol is also producing social misfits who commit heinous crimes such as murder and rape.Chief Superintendent Nkomo said abuse of alcohol has also led to some people suffering mental illnesses with others ending up being destitute.Police have been deployed to deal with the scourge. Vuzu parties will not be left out.“This festive season, as the Zimbabwe Republic Police we are out in full force and we have deployed in every corner and inch of the central business district. We will be arresting those who will be drinking in public spaces. We are also alert that there are issues of Vuzu parties by school going children. We have deployed our intelligence teams so that we can act on these Vuzu parties,” he said.Saturday Chronicle yesterday observed police as they loaded some of the alcohol into their seven tonne truck from a backyard distribution centre situated between 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue and Fife Street and Jason Moyo.Rosemary Khumalo who lives near 5th Avenue market place, said she was tired of the noise made by motorists that come to buy alcohol from the backyard distribution centre.She commended police for arresting the dealer.“Yesterday we just observed six trucks off-loading alcohol here. These people had become a nuisance as some of them were even urinating on the sanitary lane. We are really grateful that police have acted against this operator,” she said.

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