Police in Matabeleland provinces are on high alert and have mounted roadblocks along the region’s highways to prevent unnecessary accidents and smuggling of weapons and drugs this festive season.
The main targets of the roadblocks seem to be mostly cars bearing South African number plates that have suddenly increased in number as more Zimbabweans return home for the festive season celebrations.
In Matabeleland South, the law enforcement agents have mounted over half a dozen roadblocks along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Highway and, in some cases, carry out searches on luggage and vehicles.
In Matabeleland North, police have launched an operation codenamed “Salibonani Njiva (Greetings Njiva)” as part of the campaign. In Bulawayo, roadblocks have been erected on all major roads leading to the country’s second biggest city.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Tafanana Dzirutwe said they believed the number of roadblocks was still low as they sought to ensure that people travelled safely on the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road.
“I think they are not enough because the road is too long.
“What we are saying is that this is a festive period and there is an increase in the number of travellers and vehicles on the road,” he said.
Dzirutwe said they were also searching for firearms and drugs that might be smuggled into the country.
“That suspicion cannot be ruled out. Use of firearms is higher in South Africa than here.
“There is also the issue of drug trafficking.
You will know that the movement of drugs from one Sadc country to another has increased
recently,” he said.
His Matabeleland North counterpart Assistant Inspector Siphiwe Makonese said in an operation that started on December 15 and would end on January 15, vehicles bearing South African registration plates would be subjected to random searches.
“There will be a stop-and-search operation on South African-registered vehicles for such kinds of weapons,” she said.
“We have also recorded cases of reckless driving with some injiva (a term used to describe flashy, often unruly Zimbabweans based in South Africa) driving side by side and chatting on the roads, exposing other road users to danger. ”
Makonese said they had also embarked on a traffic campaign exercise, distributing pamphlets to motorists on how to drive safely to preserve not only their lives, but those of other road users.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said they would be targeting those driving under the influence of alcohol, unlicensed drivers and all those that violate road regulations.
He said members of the public were being urged to co-operate with the police.