Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE police have said they are descending hard on bus operators who are used as conduits to smuggle goods and migrants into the country, depriving the State of millions of dollars in import duty.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said in a statement yesterday that the police were working with other security agencies in exorcising the smuggling ghost.
He said they were intercepting a number of buses that are transporting contrabands daily, mainly from South Africa through the Beitbridge Border Post. Asst Comm Nyathi said in some instances the buses were transporting illegal immigrants and migrants who are not screened for Covid-19. Such a move, he said, was bound to reverse the gains the Government had made in containing the deadly pandemic.
Asst Comm Nyathi said on Wednesday last week police intercepted five cross-border buses that were carrying an assortment of suspected contraband of smuggled goods from South Africa.
“With reference to the recent social media post which went viral on November 3, on an alleged bus crew and passengers who protested alleged corruption by members of the security services at Chicago along the Beitbridge to Harare Road.
The police set the record straight and reports that buses were indeed involved in the smuggling acts were impounded after a tip-off had been received from concerned citizens. The six buses and four kombis have been taken to Zimra to ensure the appropriate customs and excise laws were applied,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said the transporters include, Munhenzva (F203BF GPV), Lexliner (HM 04GC GP), Blue Liner (HM 70DD GP), and Sable Class (TRUE GOD, Charazim (ABQ 8745), Regional Boundary Bus (HN 97FL GP), Nissan Caravan (AEP 4454), Toyota Hiace (AFK 9917), Nissan Caravan (AFD 8084) and Nissan Caravan AFD7012.
He said the buses and the kombis were carrying an assortment of groceries and a combined 25 immigrants without passports.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the small vehicles were intercepted near the Pande Mine illegal crossing point along the Limpopo River.
“These bus operators are posing a security risk with their illegal migrants and immigrants who they are carrying into the country and with no Covid-19 protocols being followed at all. This militates against the Government’s quest to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and as the police, we will ensure that the law takes its course without fear or favour,” he added.
It is believed that the country is losing millions of dollars to smuggling activities along the border with South Africa and hence the Government beefed up security in January to curb intrusive leakages.
Buses, plying the inter-city and cross border routes have been fingered as the main conduits being used by smuggling rackets to transport commercial goods which fall out of the Open General Import License (OGIL).
In some instances, the smugglers are using illegal crossing points on the main border’s flanks and before loading the goods into the buses. However, most of these are being picked through drones’ surveillance. @tupeyo