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MBABANE – The liSwati behind the alleged smuggling of medication worth E800 000 has been identified as Bongani Sifiso Shongwe.

Shongwe (31) appeared at the Chief Albert Luthuli Magistrates Court yesterday charged with contravening the South Africa Medical Act. He was remanded in custody and will return to court on Thursday. He was arrested by the South African Police Service (SAPS) under the Border Policing at the Oshoek Port of Entry on Friday afternoon.

Upon his arrest, the suspect supposedly informed the law enforcers that someone had bought the medical drugs and supplies locally. However, it is worth noting that Eswatini imports medical drugs as there are no pharmaceutical plants producing them locally. It is yet to be verified if the drugs were stolen from government institutions or private pharmacies. The arrest of Shongwe happened almost eight weeks after the Auditor General (AG), Timothy Matsebula, submitted a report in Parliament, detailing that over E151 million of medical drugs were unaccounted for in public health facilities.

This, he said, resulted in a shortage of medical supplies yet government had improved its budget for this stock by over 55 per cent. In a media statement, which was issued by the office of the Provincial Commissioner in Mpumalanga, it was reported that the suspect was nabbed after failure to produce authorisation for transportation of the consignment across the border. It was stated that police, who were busy with their routine duties, searched a truck which was pulling two trailers.

During their search, the law enforcers reportedly discovered that the truck was transporting a huge consignment of medication and that it was headed to South Africa (SA) from Eswatini. The destination of the medical drugs is yet to be ascertained, as the driver (Shongwe) claimed ignorance to the contents of the consignment when he was arrested. He alleged that he did not know that he was transporting stolen consignment.