Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
South African security agents had to shoot at crocodiles on Thursday afternoon that wanted to attack them as they destroyed a makeshift bridge built by smugglers and border jumpers along the Limpopo River.
The “wooden bridge” was “mysteriously” built some 3km west of the border post and was largely covering the dip-end on the South African component of the border.
At the moment Zimbabwe and South Africa have two official crossing bridges, the Alfred Beit-Bridge and the New Limpopo Bridge.
A resolution was arrived at to destroy the bridge on Monday following meeting between Zimbabwe and South African security agencies.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the incident on Friday.
“On September 8, the Police in Musina police made an attempt to destroy the makeshift bridge that was built illegally to cross over from Zimbabwe into South Africa and back,” he said.
“Whilst busy at work , some crocodiles which were in abundance, patrolling the area tried to feast on police officers.
Shots had to be fired to scare them off and as a result, a small part of the bridge was destroyed”.
Brig Mojapelo said they had since requested the army in that country to help them in destroying the bridge.
It is understood that South Africa and Zimbabwe are losing thousands of dollars in potential import duty due to high smuggling activities of banned and dutiable goods through the Limpopo River.
The high level of crime at the border front has seen both countries beefing up security at the border front where air patrols are regularly conducted on the 250km border front.
The border jumpers and smugglers have continually been devising new ways and routes to cross into either country since the beginning of the Covid19 related lockdowns in March 2020.
Electrical gadgets, groceries, fuel, vehicles, genetically modified goods, baby diapers, and banned goods are the majority of goods being smuggled into Zimbabwe.
Cigarettes, minerals, wildlife and explosives form the bulk of items being smuggled into South Africa.
The crime rate at the Limpopo River where the river bed is currently dry had been worsened by the unavailability of a patrol road on the Zimbabweans side of the border.
At the moment there are fewer motorised patrol, with security personnel mostly covering an average of 30 km on foot patrols daily.
So far Zimbabwean security officials have arrested over 46 000 people for border related crimes between January 7 and September 1 this year.
During that period a total of $110 million, usd35 000 and R465 000 was realised in fines and imports revenue.
Recoveries of goods worth $9,2 million, usd206 000 and R3, 1 million were also made by the Zimbabwean National Security Task-force. – @tupeyo