Beitbridge border post: Zimbabwe police, SA guards destroy makeshift smuggling bridge

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Two women cross the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa at the Beitbridge post.
Two women cross the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa at the Beitbridge post.
Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu
  • A bridge erected in a crocodile-infested part of the Limpopo River was destroyed.
  • The Zimbabwe Republic Police said they seized 11 floating boats from various smuggling points last month.
  • In July, about 5 000 people were arrested on the Zimbabwean side for cross-border crimes.

A joint operation of South African border control guards and Zimbabwean security officials this week destroyed a makeshift bridge erected by smugglers the night before.

The illegal bridge was the third since January this year and was erected just under a kilometre east of the border post, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said.

It said the bridge, in an area infested with crocodiles and hippopotamuses, was made of logs, metal poles and sacks filled with sand.

The officer in command of Beitbridge, Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo, of the ZRP, told journalists: "We will suffocate the criminals on both sides of the border."

READ | Zimbabwe debuts gold coins as currency

In July, the police seized 11 pressure boats at various illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River.

The smugglers use boats to transport mainly contraband cigarettes from Zimbabwe into South Africa, as well as groceries, electrical gadgets and other goods.

Nyongo pleaded for people to use the proper channels for the importation of goods and general travel.

"People should use formal crossing points," he said.

Figures from the ZRP indicate that, in July, at least 5 000 people were arrested for cross-border-related crimes on the Zimbabwean side.

Three weeks ago, SA deployed 200 specially trained border control officers to the Beitbridge border post, under the  Border Management Authority programme.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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