BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ABOUT 50 000 people have been arrested since January for various cross-border crimes, particularly smuggling, a lucrative business that reportedly prejudices the country of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue.
Despite increased patrols, arrests and confiscation of smuggled goods, smuggling syndicates seem undeterred as they continue smuggling goods to and from South Africa.
Even the closure of land borders as a COVID-19 preventive measure has done little to stop the smuggling syndicates.
In a statement, police said 45 146 people had been arrested since January for cross-border crimes.
“On August 28, police arrested 140 people for illegal crossing in Beitbridge, Mukumbura and Nyamapanda. Meanwhile, two people were arrested for smuggling on the same day at Plumtree Border Post,” police said in a statement.
“Zimbabwe Republic Police recovered assorted electrical gadgets, building materials and groceries approximately valued at BWP24 760. The police have arrested 45 146 people across the country since January for cross-border crimes.”
Smuggling syndicates often involve government officials.
Researchers in a report titled Smuggling through Fluid and Porous African Borderlands and the State’s Response: The Case of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Border, argue that policing authorities are fighting a losing battle in cross-border crimes.
“The smugglers and the smuggled, on the other hand, perceive smuggling as a noble activity and that the border is simply an “artificial” obstacle whose fluidity and porosity offers opportunities for survival,” the research findings read in part.
“As a result, smuggling has remained a common component of the Zimbabwe-South Africa borderland where the State and the smuggling rackets continue to play cat and mouse in an attempt to define their space of control and survival.”
The researchers were investigating how cross-border traders ingeniously exploit the fluid and porous borderland to conduct illicit trade across the crocodile-infested Limpopo River and through the barbed-wired Nabob electric fence bordering Zimbabwe and South Africa.
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