THREE Chinese and a Zambian have been arrested in South Africa over the smuggling and intended sale of unauthorised COVID-19 vaccines and counterfeit 3M-branded N95 face masks.
According to Interpol, the accused were arrested on November 29, 2020, during a search of the warehouse where the smuggled goods were being kept.
Sources have identified the Zambian man as Charles Chigwedere, who owns a clearing agency at Oliver Tambo International Airport in South Africa.
And according to Interpol, the ampules of illicit unregistered COVID-19 vaccines were imported from China to South Africa and falsely declared as cosmetic injections on the import documentation.
“Several hundreds of ampules of illicit unregistered COVID-19 vaccines have been imported from China to South Africa for distribution or selling. The mentioned product had been advertised on WeChat (a multipurpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app). The unauthorised COVID-19 vaccines were falsely declared as cosmetic injections on the import documentation,” Interpol disclosed.
It was further revealed that the legal name of an existing company was used to import the vaccines from Singapore to South Africa via Oliver Tambo International Airport.
During a search at the premises, a large quantity of counterfeit 3M-branded N95 masks were found in unit A11 of the warehouse in Gauteng with an estimated value of US $526,0000.
In addition, 400 ampules of illicit unregistered COVID-19 vaccines were discovered at unit A12 that was also rented by the suspects, but the value of the COVID-19 vaccines has not yet been established.
Meanwhile, efforts to get confirmation from the Zambian Embassy in South Africa and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs proved futile by press time.