‘Beitbridge police protecting bogus shipping agents’ 

Source: ‘Beitbridge police protecting bogus shipping agents’ –Newsday Zimbabwe

BEITBRIDGE’S registered shipping agents have accused the police of turning a blind eye on bogus clearing agents, pickpockets and touts causing havoc in the private imports terminal at Zimbabwe’s busiest port of entry.

BEITBRIDGE’S registered shipping agents have accused the police of turning a blind eye on bogus clearing agents, pickpockets and touts causing havoc in the private imports terminal at Zimbabwe’s busiest port of entry.

The shipping agents claim that unscrupulous policemen get kickbacks for hounding bona fide shipping officials while creating opportunities for the undesirables otherwise known as maguma-guma in the protected area where theft from travellers has become chronic.

The Beitbridge Border Post has recorded a surge in cases where travellers and tourists lose substantial amounts of money to thieves and con-artists.

However, acting commanding officer of Beitbridge ZRP district Superintendent Makesure Horeka said he had not received reports of such incidents.

“Where have they reported? I have not heard anything about it and why do they report to the media instead of coming to the police station,” he said.

All border posts are protected areas and unless by arrangement or special purpose, all people operating within should be registered by the Department of Customs and Excise and issued with accreditation cards.

The cards should be dangled around the neck or produced on demand by authorised persons.

But an official of the Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association told NewsDay that reporting to the police is a waste of time.

“This is no longer the case, we have several shipping agents arrested and taken to the police station where they are later released without charge.

“This is unfair and causes unnecessary inconveniencing for clients. In most (cases) the agents are arrested in front of their clients and it is embarrassing,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Travellers, particularly those driving into Zimbabwe, are usually confused by paperwork and seek the services of shipping agents and bogus agents take advantage of the unsuspecting motorists.

Government sought the services of private security companies to assist police but the guards are suspected of aiding bogus agents.

Some have been jailed for being part to crimes committed inside the border while some crooked government officials also allegedly refer travellers to conmen with whom they share spoils later.

A number of motorists have had their items including cars seized by customs officials after getting fraudulent vehicle Temporary Import Permits, fake declaration documents or producing fake invoices later detected by officials.

“More often than not genuine shipping agents who are arrested are later released without charge but during that downtime their clients fall prey to conmen,” the shipping official said.

“We also have several off-duty policemen who join in the stampede for clearing work despite not being registered.”

On May 20 last year, Jacques Alizart, a South African national on his way to Victoria Falls was robbed of more than R5 000 at the border.

He was duped into believing the money was for buying a Temporary Import Permit.

Alizart, who slept in the open at the border, helped to identify the  suspects caught on camera inside the hall but were freed after he failed to attend court.

A group of tourists was accosted and duped of cash by bogus agents who used their  names after being supplied with the information by officials.

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