Scores of smugglers who had gone low in the last four months following the deployment of security officials along the Limpopo River have resurfaced in Beitbridge, using new routes to gain access into and out of the country.
The smugglers reduced their operations when South Africa and Zimbabwe beefed up security and increased patrols along the Beitbridge Border to curb the smuggling of goods in January this year.
Both countries shut the border to non-essential human traffic while allowing trucks to move cargo. This move saw a spike in smuggling activities.
Since then, smugglers have created new lucrative illegal crossing points –opening a taxi rank at the Old Beitbridge Border Post, a location around Pagomo Lodge (Zimbabwe) and near Gateway Trucks stop (South Africa).
While many get arrested by the police, some still find their way through by allegedly bribing officials on both sides of the border.
Although security officers from Zimbabwe and South Africa have been rounding up an average of 300 people weekly along the river during joint border patrols, many smugglers have become more daring and operate 500 meters east of the main border post and under the Old Limpopo Bridge.
Zimbabwe’s national security task force have intercepted a total of 55 intercity buses carrying goods smuggled into the country through various points along the Limpopo River between February and March.
Both countries lose millions in revenue due to the illicit trade and activities of smugglers finding their way in or out of the country’s porous borders.