WATCH | Continued Covid-19 lockdown sees rampant smuggling & desperation at border with Zimbabwe

22 June 2020 - 10:22 By Emile Bosch

As a food crisis looms in Zimbabwe, thousands of its people are illegally crossing the Beitbridge Border daily to purchase foodstuffs in the nearby town of Musina, Limpopo. 

Hundreds of food smugglers are making their way across dry parts of the Limpopo riverbed every day. 

South African drivers, without work due to the Covid-19 lockdown, have taken to transporting goods from Musina to waiting Zimbabweans along the border.

This comes despite a new R37m border fence erected in March. 

Richard*, one driver, said he makes an average R7,000 daily by transporting goods to waiting smugglers along the border. 

"I'm loading over here, carrying the things, jumping them through the border. We get something because there's no work. These people pay better than our real jobs," he said. 

Richard works every day and said he makes close to R200,000 monthly by transporting illicit goods.

Loaded cars and pickup trucks are a common sight on roads leading to the border fence, each one carrying a load worth around R50,000 on average, according to Richard. 

"The situation in Zimbabwe is very bad. These people are even buying mealie meal here. They are buying sugar, chicken, all for their children to survive," he said. 

Richard claimed that members of the military are taking bribes from the smugglers. 

A local farmer, Izak Nel, described the recent situation at the border as "chaos". 

"There was about 500 people moving there daily, moving up and down."

Nel said 40 to 60 cars could be found on the border road daily. 

Soldiers have, however, increased their presence on Nel's side of the fence, resulting in less smuggling on the western side. 

Smugglers have simply taken to crossing on the eastern side of the border. 

A final report on the construction of the fence is expected to be handed to the public works department soon.

According to a source close to investigations, "the report makes adverse findings on the planning and execution of the project, which constitutes irregular expenditure”.

The auditor-general is also investigating the matter.

* Not his real name.


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