The Sunday Mail
While Government, corporates, organisations and individuals have opened their hearts and wallets, pooling resources to support those who are likely to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, shameless and heartless no-gooders are pilfering some of the goods and wheeling them for sale on the black market.
The goods that are being targeted the most include on-demand groceries such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, soya chunks and mealie-meal.
Ironically, the bulk of the items that are being hawked along the streets in some high-density suburbs are clearly labelled “Not For Sale”.
However, they are being bought and sold anyway.
One of the popular items includes rice-soy, which is sourced from the United States of America and used across the globe to provide emergency relief in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.
The Sunday Mail Society is in possession of some of the donated rice-soy and cooking oil, which it purchased on the black market as part of its investigations.
Some public officials are believed to be behind the rings that are round-tripping the products to the unofficial market for profit.
One of the traders (name withheld), who has found the trade lucrative, let the cat out of the bag.
“I purchase this stuff in bulk from a colleague in Southlea Park. In fact, he is the major supplier of the products on the market. He has constant supply from his counterpart . . . ” he said after being cajoled by crew.
“I mainly deal with rice-soy and cooking oil, though in fewer quantities due to limited resources. I am unemployed and this is the only way to take care of my family.”
The “hot stock” is sold at reasonably low prices in order to expeditiously clear the stock.
The rice-soy, for example, is offloaded at US$1 for five packets measuring between 300g and 500g, while one has to part
with US$2 or less for a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil. Ordinarily, a 2-litre bottle retails for anything between US$2,50 and US$3 on the parallel market.
“Our profit margin is very small. We are not greedy,” he said cheekily.
We trailed the products to a house in Glen View 3, which turned out to be a warehouse of sorts where some of the supposedly pilfered items were stashed.
The items are reportedly delivered at night.
Civil Protection Unit (CPU) director Mr Nathan Nkomo said there was need to account for those responsible for the leakages.
“It is sad that we are mobilising food for those that have been affected by Covid-19 and some see it fit to steal the little we have gathered.
“We will not pardon culprits as their actions are compromising the ability to fulfil our mandate. Those caught offside will have to face the music,” said Mr Nkomo.
The CPU said public officials have to be morally upright for them to responsibly discharge their duties.
Police have been on a drive to encourage members of the public to volunteer information that is needed to apprehend the culprits.
“Selling food aid is a criminal offence. We urge the public to alert us so that we make arrests,” said Zimbabwe Republic Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.