South Africa on Thursday deployed 200 fully equipped border guards to the Beitbridge border post, which links the country to Zimbabwe.
i). A new home affairs unit named the Border Management Authority has dispatched officers to the Beitbridge border.
ii). To guard against corruption, the officers will undergo regular lifestyle audits.
iii). Zimbabwe has welcomed the move and vowed to cooperate with the new unit.
The guards will work with Zimbabwe’s border patrol, which consists of the police and the military.
Speaking during the unveiling of the unit in Messina this week, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the guards would seek to stem criminal activities in the border region. News24 quotes him as saying:
We are determined to [turn] the transformed border into one of the best crime-free facilities.
This cohort will be tactically deployed at the identified five vulnerable segments of the borderline, working together with members of the South African National Defence Force.
He said those selected underwent intensive training and would work with other state security agencies.
Beitbridge is the busiest land border linking South Africa with the outside world. Zimbabwe collects on average R4 million per day at the new one-stop terminal, while an average of a thousand trucks are cleared daily.
Official estimates indicate that about 15 000 people use the border daily.
Reason for Deployment:
According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), the Beitbridge border is a corruption hotspot.
Several ZIMRA officers were arrested last month after failing to explain how they had accumulated their wealth after lifestyle audits were conducted.
South African and Zimbabwean border control officers have in the past been arrested for being part of smuggling syndicates.
As such, Motsoaledi said the BMA guards will be subjected to routine lifestyle audits.
The regional immigration officer in charge on the Zimbabwean side of the border, Trustworthy Manatsire, said they have been arresting on average 200 offenders daily since last month.