A senior member of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) has been arrested for allegedly smuggling 31 AK-47 assault rifles and 62 magazines into the country through the Beitbridge Border Post.

Colonel Leonard Matambo is being charged with smuggling and possession of dangerous weapons.

He appeared before magistrate Stanford Mambanje, who remanded him in custody to Tuesday this week for bail ruling.

Prosecuting, Tafara Chirambira said that on an unknown date between 2019 and August this year, Matambo connived with Guguluthu Mabhena of Bulawayo to smuggle a consignment of 31 AK-47 rifles as well as 62 magazines from South Africa.

On 29 August, Mabhena was allegedly found carrying the guns in his Toyota Hilux king-cab vehicle at Manica Transit Shed in Beitbridge.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) established that the firearms had been smuggled from South Africa.

Meanwhile, Matambo allegedly wrote to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s regional manager requesting that Mabhena, of Spartan Arms International, be allowed to clear the consignment.

Matambo requested ZIMRA to clear the consignment pending submission of relevant clearance documents which he claimed were being processed by the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI).

Police Inspector Victor Mukohwa opposed bail arguing that Matambo was likely to commit a similar offence and endanger the safety of the general public.

Mukohwa also told magistrate Mambanje that more firearms could have been smuggled therefore police required more time to investigate the matter while Matambo and his accomplice are in custody.

Matambo’s lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara said his client was not a flight risk and that he has immovable property in Gweru.

He also said Matambo’s wife was a senior member of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, currently on a United Nations mission in South Sudan.

Bhatasara said the consignment belonged to the ZDI.

Matambo told the court that he wrote the letter authorising the release of the firearms after being given the nod by the ZDI general manager, one Air Commodore Mutizwa.

However, Inspector Mukohwa told the court that Mutizwa’s whereabouts were not known, adding that police were yet to receive a complaint from the ZDI over the matter.

The guns, ammunition and vehicle were confiscated and will be produced before the court as evidence. | NewsDay