Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE introduction of helicopter patrols by members of the security sector have resulted in reduced cases of smuggling along the country’s border with South Africa.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police were clamping hard on criminals among them smugglers and border jumpers who are in the habit of using illegal crossing points.
He said on Tuesday midday a security team on aerial patrol intercepted 180 boxes of cigarettes worth millions of dollars that were being smuggled into South Africa near Dite area.
A box of cigarettes is sold for around R6000 on the local market and an average of between R15 000 and R25 000 depending on the brand in South Africa.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the group of smugglers dumped their contraband comprising 120 boxes of Remmington Gold and 60 boxes of Express Royale cigarettes.
He said the gang escaped to South Africa upon spotting the security helicopter.
“We are not going back with this operation “No to Cross-border Crimes’”. As police, we encourage travellers and importers/exports to use formal borders rather than choosing to break the law. Let me warn such people that we will not fold our hands and allow lawlessness,” he said.
He said the intensified patrols were gradually restoring sanity along the country’s border with its southern neighbour.
Government deployed the national security task force to Beitbridge in January to boost capacity to deal with cross-border related crimes.
Prior to the latest move, Government was losing a lot of potential revenue in import/export duties.
The task force among other things is making use of drones, helicopters, and motorized patrols along the Limpopo River. @tupeyo