Some South African soldiers are reportedly facilitating the illegal entry of Zimbabweans into that country in exchange for huge kickbacks which they distribute to all, including the command element.
South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula appearing before that country’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts suggested that she was unaware of the illegal activities although the soldiers have on numerous occasions been caught on camera escorting illegal cross border traders.
Ngakula defended the soldiers arguing that they were merely assisting “needy Zimbabweans purchase food supplies and medication”.
Sources who spoke to the Herald claimed that by being bush immigration and customs officials for Zimbabweans and other nationalities, soldiers were making a killing. Lovemore Ndlovu, who is tuckshop owner in Gwanda said:
Many people who cross daily to the South African side are traders operating along the border seeking to restock their wares.
During this lockdown period, we have to pay between 300 rands to 500 rands for safe passage into South Africa.
Some cross border traders also claimed that South African soldiers were now acting as messengers to fetch groceries for traders from as far as Musina and deliver them to sites along the Limpopo.
Traders said this was less expensive for them since soldiers were able to buy goods from cheaper suppliers. The traders also told the Herald that they were saving a lot by evading duty and avoiding transport costs.
The closure of borders due to the coronavirus reportedly worsened illegal entry into South Africa as cross border traders sought to keep their businesses afloat.
More: The Herald