Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Department of Immigration has intensified operations at Beitbridge Border Post, resulting in the arrest of 3 967 people for violating immigration laws in December 2019.
Most of the arrests were related to border jumping, failure to get a passport stamped and travelling using stolen documents.
Statistics show that 200 undocumented children were intercepted going into South Africa or Zimbabwe with third parties between December 1 and 31.
The smuggling of minors into either country is rampant during the holidays.
A further 10 people were arrested for human smuggling and taken to court where they were fined between $1 000 and $2 000, while 60 others were refused entry into Zimbabwe from South Africa for not having visas or money to sustain their stay in the country.
Having torn passports and lack of valid travel documents also saw travellers being denied entry.
Among those denied entry were citizens of Nigeria, India, Burundi, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Guinea Bissau, Uganda, Mozambique and Rwanda.
The assistant regional immigration officer-in-charge Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said they were working with their South African counterparts to curb the illegal movement of people.
“Our enforcement team has been hard at work conducting spot checks on all vehicles entering and leaving the country through the border, where we rounded up 3 967 in December for violating sections of the Immigration Act.
“We are also conducting patrols around the border with the help of other security agencies. We also had an all-female compliance and enforcement operation at the start of the festive season which helped clamp down on illegal activities at the border,” said Mr Ncube.
He said the minors who were intercepted were taken to the Department of Social Services for reunification with their parents.
“We still reiterate the need to travel in time to avoid last minute rushes and the avoidance of contracting human smugglers to convey children.
“Parents should desist from putting their children at the mercy of criminals,” said Mr Ncube.
He said border authorities were also ready to deal with an anticipated increase in human and vehicular traffic as Zimbabweans based in South Africa returned to their bases.
The Herald understands that most of the intercepted children were from Bulawayo, Harare and Chiredzi and their destinations in South Africa were mainly Johannesburg and Cape Town.