Zim, SA tighten screws on border crimes

Zimbabwe and South Africa have tightened screws on border crimes along the Limpopo River and at the Beitbridge port of entry, where cases of irregular migrations and smuggling of prohibited goods are rampant.

Zimbabwean border stakeholders introduced the regional enforcement committee a fortnight ago to prevent cases of irregular movement of people between the two countries.

Since then, the team made up of multiple authorities and led by the Department of Immigration has been intercepting between 150 and 200 people a day going to either country illegally or smuggling goods.

This will help curtail criminal activities, among them border jumping, touting, the use of fake immigration stamps, and fake travel documents along with more serious human trafficking..

The two countries have of late been collaborating on fighting crime at their border and yesterday, South Africa deployed 200 border guards to five of its land borders. These guards fall under the newly established Border Management Authority (BMA) and some were deployed to the borders with Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini, which have been classified as hotspots for cross-border crimes.

Acting regional immigration officer-in-charge at Beitbridge-Zimbabwe, Mr Trustworthy Manatsire, said his office was working with other border agencies to restore order within the port of entry and along its flanks. “We have been recording positive results since the formation of the enforcement committee,” he said. “On average we have been intercepting 150 people daily for crimes along the border and we hope to maintain the momentum.

“Within the border, we are targeting vendors, touts, vagrants, and undocumented immigrants and migrants at all known hotspots and areas where they frequent.”

Mr Manatsire said the team had identified at least 15 common illegal crossing points where smuggling and the irregular movement of people were rife.

The smuggling of cigarettes, livestock and stolen vehicles and irregular migration have become rampant along the Limpopo River, resulting in security authorities from both countries conducting joint patrols in the area.

In the last 12 months over 30 people have been arrested for smuggling stolen vehicles along the border.

Mr Manatsire was hopeful that the deployment of more security personnel by South Africa, would complement Zimbabwe’s ongoing crackdown on illegal activities on the border front.

The security task force that had been deployed by the government of Zimbabwe had helped contain increased crime along the Limpopo River.

“We are determined to make the transformed border one of the best crime-free facilities and it is pleasing to note that our neighbours have also made a commitment towards that direction by deploying more manpower,” he said.

South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said during the deployment of the border guards at Beitbridge yesterday that these will be working hand in glove with the SA defence forces.

He said the newly-recruited members of the Border Guard were carefully selected and trained, with a focus on fitness and physical assessment and that a lifestyle audit had been carried out on them to minimise cases of corruption.

“Whilst the broader integration process is underway, this cohort will be statically deployed at the identified five vulnerable segments of the borderline, working together with members of the South African National Defence Force,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

“The BMA, which is South Africa’s new, single authority for border management with a single command and control, was established through the Border Management Authority Act of 2020”.

The BMA was currently operating as a section under his ministry and that it will be weaned off in April next year.

Minister Motsoaledi said the process will involve the integration of five streams of functions performed by government departments in that country.

These include: Home Affairs; Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; and Health. The new force will carry out access control functions now conducted by members of the police in the ports of entry.

“The BMA will tighten border management by implementing an integrated and coordinated approach in the border management environment,” he said.

“This is an improvement on the previous multi-agency approach comprising multiple authorities with different mandates.”

The BMA model, he said, will pave the way for the creation of smart border posts and systems and advance trade facilitation in the region. Herald

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