BY REX MPHISA
THE South African Police Services (Saps) have since December 18 last year arrested 271 undocumented foreigners believed to be mostly Zimbabweans and intercepted smuggled cigarettes valued at R2,2 million.
The cigarettes are suspected to be of Zimbabwean origin.
“The police in Limpopo have already arrested 271 undocumented foreign nationals during the festive season operations that were conducted from December 18 to date,” Saps spokesman for Limpopo province Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said in a statement yesterday.
“During the New Year’s Eve, on December 31, 2018, illicit cigarettes worth R2,2 million were seized at a roadblock that was visited by the deputy minister of Police Cassel Mathale,” Mojapelo said.
He said in one incident, 54 of these undocumented nationals were arrested on December 31 last year at a roadblock along the N1 road, South of Polokwane, which connects Cape Town to Zimbabwe through Johannesburg.
Saps conducted searches in the province closest to Zimbabwe, where they closed 237 shebeens and 96 liquor outlets for failure to comply with that country’s Liquor Act.
Meanwhile, the traffic lockdown in Beitbridge maintained its hold as thousands of Zimbabweans returned to their South African bases.
The border town was characterised by long queues of vehicles and impatient travellers enduring the heat.
An arrangement by South African and Zimbabwean officials to have the latter release haulage trucks, buses and smaller cars in batches of 10 each to ease pressure on the South African side reflected badly on Zimbabwe, which seemed to be failing to process travellers.
“I have been on the SA side and there is no congestion at all. It is here on the Zimbabwean side,” said one haulage truck driver.
At least three million Zimbabweans are believed to be resident in South Africa as political and economic refugees. Most of them either travel without documents or overstay in that country where some have illegally acquired nationality.