Police investigate Beitbridge smuggling claims

03 May, 2020 - 00:05 0 Views
Police investigate Beitbridge smuggling claims Minister Kazembe Kazembe

The Sunday News

Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
THE Government has deployed more police officers and other security agencies along the Limpopo River which borders South Africa and Zimbabwe to curb reported increase in cases of smuggling between the two countries.

The only border post between the two countries — Beitbridge — was closed more than a month ago for non-essential human traffic when the two countries initiated national lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus. Only cargo is allowed to pass through the border.

As a result, reports have surfaced of people who were smuggling goods between the two countries through undesignated points along the Limpopo River.

Sources in Beitbridge said some residents and surrounding areas were crossing into South Africa with mainly cigarettes and alcohol.
South Africa banned the sale of alcohol and cigarettes during the lockdown.

On the other hand, groceries are being smuggled from South Africa into Zimbabwe. Some sources said cunning people were even using the border to transport their contraband after bribing officials.

However, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said police were seized with the matter and more officers have been deployed on the ground to make investigations.

“The police received the information and they are seized with investigations.

“They have officers on the ground investigating. We also need to be cautious about videos and messages we see on social media.

“There is a lot of fake news being circulated on social media as well as information that is out of context,” he said.

Minister Kazembe said most parts of the Limpopo River were dry and hence reports of boats being used must be treated with caution. He also warned people against peddling falsehoods or old pictures on social media for the purposes of mischief.

“We have come across clips from unrelated incidents, and even some from out of the country, which are circulated for purposes of mischief.

“While the ones circulating about possible smuggling of goods, it’s important to check if this is recent or it’s from way back given that while people appear to be crossing a river full of water, most parts, if not all, of the Limpopo in the Beitbridge area are actually dry right now with no water at all.

“Nonetheless police are taking the matter seriously and are seized with investigations,” he said.

Last week a picture of a boat smuggling a Delta Beverages opaque beer product Chibuku Super into South Africa went viral on social media.

Some Beitbridge residents and villagers noted that the smuggling activities were increasing their exposure to Covid-19 as people using the undesignated routes were not being screened or tested.

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