Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
A 42-year-old Zimbabwean woman was on Wednesday jailed for an affective 15 years by a Musina Regional Court for smuggling explosives worth R168 00 into South Africa.
Mercy Rifundo was arrested last year by the neighbouring country’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in Limpopo on August 17 last year soon after entering through Beitbridge Border Post.
She was also fined R20 000 for violating South Africa’s immigration laws, for traveling without any valid documents.
The Hawks have since the beginning of the Covid-19 induced lockdown has been cracking hard on drug peddlers, smugglers, and fraudsters around Limpopo province.
Over six people mostly Zimbabweans were jailed around Limpopo for smuggling explosives.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo province, Captain Matimba Maluleke said Rifundo was busted while carrying 590 units of blasting cartridges.
“Rifundo was en-route from Zimbabwe to South Africa when the taxi she was travelling in was stopped and searched by the Beitbridge Border Post police,” he said.
Upon searching her bag, the police found 590 unit of blasting cartridges to the value of R168 000 and she was subsequently arrested.
Captain Maluleke said the case was then transferred to the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation for further investigation.
“During the investigation, it was discovered that the accused did not have required documents to be in the country as well.
Rifundo made several court appearances and remanded in custody until she was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years direct imprisonment without an option of a fine for smuggling explosives. She was also found guilty for contravening the Immigration Act and fined R20 000,” he said.
The unit’s (Hawks) acting Provincial Head for Limpopo, Brigadier Angie Matlabe commended the investigation and prosecution teams for their meritorious efforts.
“We are determined to fight all types of organised crime in our country including transnational crimes. We will not rest until our country is freed from criminal networks,” said Brigadier Matlabe.
Recently, two Zimbabwean men also jailed for an effective 15 years by the same court for smuggling explosives worth R470 000 into South Africa.
Patson Banda (25) and Life Mbazi (33) were arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in March last year while crossing into the neighbouring country.
The duo had loaded the contraband in two trolleys.
Since their arrest, Banda and Mbazi have been languishing in remand prison after their several applications for bail pending trial were dismissed at the Musina Magistrate Court.
The smuggling of explosives into South Africa through Beitbridge gas become a perennial headache for border authorities. The Herald understands that these are used for ATM bombings or illegal mining activities in the neighbouring country.
Over 20 people have been arrested along Zimbabwe boundary with South Africa with explosives in the last 24 months. @tupeyo