Security agents deployed to the border with South Africa have over the past fortnight collected $27 million and US$6 000 and R2 000 through fining smugglers as they continue to crackdown on border crimes.
Smugglers, illegal migrants, and dealers operating along the border and the highways leading to Bulawayo and Harare are being targeted.
Besides the smugglers, the security teams are clamping down hard on anyone attempting to bribe authorities.
Beitbridge’s head of police, Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo, said the police were working with other security agents in eradicating border-related crimes under an operation code-named, “No to cross-border crimes”.
Chief Supt Nyongo said from July 6 and July 24, they had seized a lot of smuggled goods collected fines amounting to $27 million, US$6 000, and R2 000 from the scores they had arrested for border-related crimes.
“Our security teams are firm and we will not leave any stone unturned against smuggling and bribery. We encourage people to follow the correct route and procedures when carrying out their cross-border businesses.
“Between July 6 and July 24, working together with other district joint operations command, we arrested 21 people for bribery and 19 of those have already been convicted and sentenced.”
While smugglers can in some circumstances get away with calculated fines, those who try to bribe their way out of trouble have to go to court.
Chief Supt Nyongo said they had roped in all border stakeholders in an effort to deal effectively with crime with one vision.
Enough deployments have been made along the border, its flanks and the major highways, he said.
“We are enjoying excellent working relationships with our courts and border stakeholders in the fight against cross-border crimes, corruption, and bribery,” he added.
In some instances, the goods were being smuggled via the border flanks, the illegal crossing points upstream and downstream of the border bridges, and finding their way to the Dulivhadzimu bus terminus for loading onto local intercity buses.
In other instances, the goods are being offloaded in the town’s western suburbs and then reloaded into other trucks going deeper into Zimbabwe.
Chief Supt Nyongo said the security teams had adopted zero tolerance to corruption and warned those in the habit of bribing security agents so as to commit crimes that their days were numbered.
“We are not taking lightly those who think they can bribe their way out,” he said.
The bulk of the smuggled goods include electrical appliances, groceries, prohibited goods and stolen vehicles being taken to Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. In the other direction, explosives, cigarettes and stolen livestock are being smuggled into South Africa.
On Sunday evening, police arrested a 35-year-old man from Dulivhadzimu suburb in Beitbridge while he was transporting a large shipment of allegedly smuggled appliances.
The seized goods included: three 300-litre Defy deep freezers, a 470 litre Defy deep freezer, two Zoo gas fridges, four Univa 4-plate stoves, five Defy 4-plate stoves, six Ferre 4-plate stoves, a small Defy upright fridge, a KIC small upright fridge, four 635 litre black KIC upright fridges, two 635 litre metallic KIC upright fridges, four 2-plate gas stove, 30 Digimark small 2-plate stoves, six Condere 2-plate stoves, two Safi 9kg gas tanks, 14 Ecco 2 plate-stoves with a mini oven and five 22litre Condere 2-plate
The contraband has since been taken to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for further management. Herald