How beer is smuggled across the border and sold in Springs

2017-09-15 10:02
Zimbabwean sorghum beer is sold by the roadside. (Pamela Keletso, GroundUp)

Zimbabwean sorghum beer is sold by the roadside. (Pamela Keletso, GroundUp)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - "Super is super. My profits are soaring," says Tracy [not her real name].

Chibuku Super is a brand of opaque sorghum beer manufactured by Delta Breweries, Zimbabwe's largest beer maker.

Bottled in two-litre plastic bottles, it is popular with Zimbabwean immigrants, many of whom are miners, living in towns such as Springs in Gauteng, GroundUp reports

Tracy used to earn her livelihood by importing dried groundnuts from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Now she smuggles Super which she says is much more lucrative.

"We purchase Super beer in bulk at discount rates in Zimbabwe by lying to wholesalers that we are bar owners. Each bottle costs us just 70 US cents," says Tracy. She sells it for $2.50 (R33) a bottle in South Africa.

In Zimbabwe the beer crates are loaded into the cargo section of South Africa-bound buses. The legal limit for beer at the border is 2.5 litres per traveller.

"As usual, bus drivers and touts are our salvation," she says.

"We pay them so that whenever they encounter Zimbabwe police roadblocks they lie that the beer is headed for Beitbridge and won't cross into South Africa."

A 'brave' crossing

At Beitbridge, people carry the beer on foot across the Limpopo River.

"If the water levels in Limpopo are shallow, as they are now in summer, porters will charge us R100 for every 60 bottles they carry into South Africa," she says.

Smugglers, such as Tracy, don’t risk it themselves as there are robbers, known as amaguma-guma, who prey on immigrants crossing into South Africa through the dense bush. Instead, Tracy continues by bus.

"We complete all immigration passport formalities, and meet the beer couriers on South African territory, 5km outside Musina town," she says.

Denis Juru of the Zimbabwe International Cross Border Traders Association Union in Musina says, "It's crazy."

But it has "suddenly become a money spinner for porters who can brave crossing the Limpopo River on foot".

The beer is then distributed in taxis.

'100 bottles in a day'

Tracy says immigrants, many of whom mine for gold in abandoned shafts, are her main market.

Chenjerai Dzungu is one such miner. He is 19 and from Zimbabwe. "This is real Zimbabwe beer, a sweet memory of home," he says.

"Its taste is fluffy and smooth. Give me 10 bottles of this beer and I can work under a gold mine for a week without thinking much of cooking meals.

"It is sort of a prestige among us illegal miners to be seen in public waving a calabash of Zimbabwe Super beer here in South Africa."

Tracy describes business as brisk. "I can sell 100 bottles in a day," she says.

Some shebeens also buy the beer from her.

"Police here in Springs don't care or know that this is beer. They just think these are opaque milk drinks," she says. "It is not my duty to enforce rules, I am just a beer seller."


Read more on:    zimbababwe  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  alcohol

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Watch: Investing in the future through child development

An investment of R32-million into 11 early childhood development centres is changing the future for children in the Northern Cape.

/Africa
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.