Zimbabwe & The Catalytic Converter (Cats) Rush
By all means, this is not just a Zim thing, but its a phenomenon found across the world. Let me show you why.
As Zimbabweans we are very quick to hop onto trends, whether its ‘modifying’ our cars by placing what appears to be basketball nets on the faces of our cars or by simply purchasing a Honda Fit. I like to call it the “Monkey see, monkey do phenomenon” The common theme with these trends is that they are cheap to follow or they can make you a fair bit of money. In an economy where roughly 20% of the population are formally employed, you can see where the “hustle” in all of us Zimbos comes from.
One of the recent trends that has been catching on is that of catalytic converter deletes of our vehicles, either voluntary or by force, for resale purposes. In this article I will share a bit of insight on this topic based on the questions you might have ahout this..
What are Catalytic Converters
Catalytic converters or “Cats” for short are emission control devices that are used in vehicles in order to reduce the amount of pollutants coming out of the exhaust pipe. This is made possible by the special materials used to make the catalytic converters (more of that later) . In case you are wondering where they are located on your car, it is between the exhaust manifold and the muffler underneath your car.
Why are they in demand?
The simple truth is that catalytic converters are made with rare earth metals that help it do its job. Such metals include platinum, palladium and rhodium and sometimes with even traces of gold. You can see why it becomes a temptation to just saw one off an unsuspecting car owner and sell it for reasonable money.
How lucrative is this hustle?
Speaking of ‘reasonable money’, given how popular this trade is becoming, even without research you can tell that it is pretty lucrative. From ‘cats’ being stolen from parked vehicles overnight to dubious mechanics removing them after taking your car in for touch ups, a lot of people want in. $170USD to $300USD is the money you are likely to make for selling a ‘cat’.
Is it legal?
Both Yes and No. There are legitimate organisations like Procatzim which is the leading catalytic and E-waste recycling company which buys the cats if you are looking to sell. For those that would have stolen the cats, they have an alternative, and that is to sell on the black market which often involves selling to South African buyers.
What are the possible implications?
The unfortunate fact about this industry is you may find yourself victim of catalytic converter theft especially if your car sleeps outside like a lot of ours do. Many of our cars do not have alarm systems too, making it even easier for your cats to be stolen. Although this does not negatively affect your car’s daily performance, it will definitely negatively affect the environment as more harmful exhaust pollutants are pumped into the atmosphere. With more and more cars being imported and more are decatted, this only exacerbates the problem.
Author: Tinotenda Nyakudzuka