By NQOBANI NDLOVU
OVER 30 000 people have been arrested in the past three weeks for smuggling goods into the country, as well as border jumping, police said yesterday.
The smuggling of goods, including luxury vehicles, is rampant at the country’s porous borders.
Estimates by government and other independent agencies show that the illegal activities have deprived Treasury of nearly US$1 billion of revenue per year in unpaid customs duty.
However, with unemployment rife, sophisticated cartels, which include police officers and other security agents, continue with the vice due to the socio-economic problems in the country.
In the latest incident, police said three suspects were arrested on Saturday at an illegal entry point in Plumtree, bringing the total number of people caged for smuggling to 30 387.
“On June 26, police in Plumtree arrested three suspects for smuggling and recovered 6×43-inch LED television sets, 26 Waxiba radios, 15 bluetooth box speakers, 50 litres of diesel and various clothing at Nxele illegal cross point,” police said in a statement.
“Since the inception of the ‘Operation No to Cross Border Crimes’ on June 7, 2021, cumulative arrests now stand at 30 387. The ZRP warns the public against using undesignated points when entering or exiting the country.”
Various State security organs are said to be involved in joint border patrols to curb the illegal border crossings by returning residents.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe recently said government would soon deploy drones at the country’s borders.
Health experts have also identified border jumpers and smugglers as contributing to the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding compulsory quarantine and testing.
Economic commentators recently urged police to improve its fight against smuggling to protect the local industry and jobs.
“It is a positive development (anti-smuggling operation) for local manufactures because they have been crying too much about a lot of imported goods that come into the country and disrupt the local value chain,” economic analyst Reginald Shoko said.
“It is going to be good if this is sustained. We know police always come with these operations. We need a long term plan to deal with these issues of smuggled goods, especially commercial goods. We must appreciate the negative impact of smuggling to the economy.”
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