Soldiers manning Beitbridge Border Post had to fire warning shots yesterday after cross border transporters protested against 100 percent searches on all imports by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
A border official who spoke to The Chronicle said cross border transporters protested against a directive by Zimra that those without travellers’ rebates should pay duty. Soldiers had to fire warning shots after some of the transporters turned violent. Said the border official:
They started by staging a peaceful sit-in and the vehicles clogged the border as they protested a request by Zimra officials that those without travellers’ rebates for specified goods should pay duty. Upon realising that the customs authority was not relenting on its stance, the drivers thronged the search bays on the commercial side and disrupted operations. Some even attempted to drive off without being searched. The soldiers moved in when the protesters turned violent, throwing stones and shouting obscenities. They fired warning shots to disperse the crowd when efforts to calm the transporters proved fruitless. However, nobody was injured during the fracas which happened between 7am and 8am.
A member of the Ferret team told The Chronicle this is the third time this year where either Omalayitsha or haulage trucks drivers have protested over various issues to do with formalities and procedures at the border. The Ferret team is made up of security forces, the police and Zimra’s anti-smuggling unit.