CAPE TOWN: Police in South Africa have foiled an attempt to smuggle a stolen luxury car into Zimbabwe using donkeys to pull it across the Limpopo River.
The suspects fled into the bushes towards Zimbabwe after their efforts to free the car from the sand failed, local police say.
Last December a vehicle stolen in Durban was recovered on the same river, attached to a group of donkeys.
Local police are investigating whether a syndicate is behind the new practice.
Police Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo says a Mercedez Benz C220 was recovered on the river bed close to Musina.
The thieves had put metal sheets under the wheels to make it easier for the donkeys to pull.
“The suspects were using donkeys to pull the car across the river‚ but our members were just in time to pounce on them after the donkeys were apparently no longer able to pull it through the sand,” Mr Mojapelo is quoted in local media as saying.
The donkeys were unharmed.
It is not clear why the thieves do not simply driver the car into Zimbabwe but the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg notes that one reason might be that most modern cars are fitted with a tracking device which uses satellite tracking to locate a vehicle, if stolen. The tracker is only active when the car is running.
The Limpopo River forms the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe and is a well known transit point for illegal immigrants moving between both countries but the news of it becoming a smuggling point for cars is a surprise development, our correspondent says.