Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
SCORES of smugglers who in the last four months took a sabbatical following the deployment of more security personnel along the Limpopo River, have returned with new routes.
Zimbabwe and South Africa beefed up security and increased patrols to curb the smuggling of goods in January this year.
The two countries closed the border to non-essential human traffic while allowing trucks to move cargo.
Since then, smugglers have created new lucrative illegal crossing points and have even opened a taxi rank at the Old Beitbridge Border Post and near Pagomo Lodge (Zimbabwe) and near Gateway Trucks stop (South Africa).
Although they are being rounded up by the police, some still find their way through by allegedly bribing officials on both sides of the border.
Some smugglers have become more daring and operate 500 meters east of the main border post and under the Old Limpopo Bridge.
When our news crew visited the Old Border Post yesterday, it was a hive of activity.
People coming into the country using several footpaths and carrying all sorts of goods including fuel, groceries, and electrical gadgets, and blankets were having a ‘‘free party’’.
Those who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were playing cat and mouse with the security agencies.
Others said they were negotiating their way after paying ‘‘small access fees’’ ranging from R20 to R100 depending on the goods being transported.
After getting into Zimbabwe, the smugglers and migrants are hiring taxis for anything between R50 and R60 to spots on roads leading to Bulawayo or Harare where they can hike to the two cities.
“It’s hectic my brother, at times we get rounded up and at times we manage to pass through without being detected. We keep shifting entry points,” said a cargo career is commonly known as Ma Zalawi.
The police officer commanding Beitbridge District Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo was not readily available for comment. — @tupeyo.