Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
South Africa’s police have intensified their clampdown on smuggling activities especially of cigarettes along its border with Zimbabwe.
Joint security patrols around the border and Limpopo province where a number of people are being rounded up for smuggling are being carried out.
Limpopo police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Mamphaswa Seabi said in the last seven days they had arrested 1 500 suspects for various offences.
Lt Col Seabi said they had recovered 707 620 cartons of suspected smuggled cigarettes worth nearly R900 000.
“The other suspects aged between 19 and 57, were arrested for charges ranging from murder, attempted murder, robberies, rape, sexual assault, assault GBH, assault common, sexual offences, burglary residential, burglary business, stock theft and arson.
“Others were charged for malicious damage to property, shoplifting, theft, dealing in drugs, driving under the influence of liquor, illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, possession of illicit cigarettes, illegal immigration, poaching, pointing someone as a witch among others,” said Lt Col Seabi.
He said the operations were ongoing and being conducted through roadblocks, stop and searches, tracing of wanted suspects, raiding of illegal businesses and intensive patrols.
Lt Col Seabi said two suspected cigarettes smugglers were arrested around Mokopane policing area transporting a contraband worth R880 000, during a sting joint operation by Crime Intelligence and Visible Policing members.
“A 34-year-old male suspect and his female accomplice aged 25, were found in possession of about 90 large boxes containing illicit cigarettes,” he added.
The senior police officer said the suspects have started appearing in courts across the province.
Cases of smuggling of cigarettes from Zimbabwe into South Africa through illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River relatively increased at the beginning of April prompting security from both countries to intensify anti-smuggling initiatives.
It is understood that 30 percent of cigarettes smuggled into South Africa are from Zimbabwe and they include Pacific, Remington Gold, Mega, Dullahs, Branson, and Servilles brands.