Security agents intensify anti-border crime operations 

Source: Security agents intensify anti-border crime operations | The Herald

Security agents intensify anti-border crime operations
A suspected stolen sport utility vehicle that was intercepted by Zimbabwean security agencies while being smuggled from South Africa into Zimbabwe in transit to Zambia. The suspects fled, leaving the car submerged in the Limpopo River. – Picture: Thupeyo Muleya

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau

Security agents deployed to the border with South Africa have in the last two months collected nearly $40 million in taxes, penalties and fines from smugglers and other offenders as the Government continues with its crackdown on border crimes.

Zimbabwe is losing millions of dollars in import duty and export levies annually due to the rampant smuggling and rent-seeking activities along the border with South Africa.

On the import side, electrical appliances, groceries, other prohibited goods, and stolen vehicles on the way to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique, are some of the major items being smuggled north.

Explosives, cigarettes, and stolen livestock are part of the goods being smuggled south into South Africa.

The Government, through operation “No to cross border crimes”, has tightened screws along the border and more manpower using vehicles, horseback and drones, plus the sure foot patrols, have been deployed to reduce crime.

The security team is targeting smugglers, illegal migrants in both directions and wheeler-dealers operating along the border and along the highways leading to Bulawayo and Harare conveying contraband.

Other criminal elements under the radar include those in the habit of bribing authorities to look the other way when they break the law. Officer Commanding police in Beitbridge Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo said they had made enough deployments to curb crime at the border front.

Police were working with other security agents in eradicating border-related crimes.

“We are not relenting in our quest to curb crime along the border with South Africa,” said Chief Supt Nyongo.

“Between July 5 and September 6, we managed to collect a total of $38,1 million, US$60 000, and R2 000 and arrested 12 144 for cross border-related crimes and 37 others for trying to bribe public officers on duty.

“These were arrested at the border, illegal crossing points, and at security checkpoints along the major highways leading to Masvingo and Bulawayo.”

The operation, said Chief Supt Nyongo, was ongoing.

Eleven inflatable boats that were being used to smuggle goods and people into either Zimbabwe or South Africa had been seized.

Syndicates that are stealing cars and smuggling them into Zimbabwe and other countries have also been busted.

Chief Supt Nyongo said the vehicles were being brought in via the many illegal crossing points where the criminals are taking advantage of the dry riverbed.

“We are also destroying wood footbridges and make-shift boats on sight.

“We take all the goods we are recovering to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for further management. The accused persons are taken to court for prosecution,” said Chief Supt Nyongo.

Travellers were encouraged to follow the correct route and procedures when carrying out their cross-border related businesses.

Chief Supt Nyongo said security remains firm on the ground and warned those who use the illegal crossing points or smuggle goods that they will be caught.

“As the police, we want to warn those criminals operating along the border that we are going to descend hard on them. In fact, we will not leave any stones unturned.

“We are aware that there are some who would want to take advantage when the Limpopo largely dries up. We are ready for them,” said Chief Supt Nyongo.

In some instances, the goods were being smuggled near the border post and finding their way to the Dulivhadzimu Bus Terminus for loading onto local intercity buses.

In other cases, the goods are being offloaded onto commercial trucks in the town’s western suburbs to be taken deeper into Zimbabwe.

Chief Supt Nyongo said police had adopted a zero tolerance to corruption and warned those in the habit of bribing security agents to commit crimes that they will be arrested without fear or favour.

“We are not taking lightly to those who think they can bribe their way out,” he said.

The Beitbridge community yesterday applauded the efforts by the security agents to curb crime along the Limpopo River.

Mr Rutendo Chuchu of Vhembe View suburb said people should use the correct channels to migrate and transport goods rather than resorting to crime.

“You will note that some people are risking their lives to smuggle goods which do not even require paying import duty,” he said.

Miss Praise Matizirofa of Dulivhadzimu suburb said the security personnel had become visible in the area, and that they need more support from the community to reduce crime levels in the district.

A resident from Limpopo View suburb, Mr Kudakwashe Garaipasi, said: “The police are doing a very good job and the results are there for all to see, especially on cross-border-related crimes.

“We have got to a stage where almost every resident is aware of one or two smugglers being busted at the border or within the suburbs daily.”

Mrs Lumbedzani Ribombo said they were happy that criminals were being suffocated along the border lines as some of them had been terrorising villagers in areas along the border.

She said the police should add more manpower to handle crime, which was almost getting out of hand.