Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
SIX more immigration officers stationed at Victoria Falls and Kazungula border posts have been arrested after allegedly receiving bribes from foreigners to alter visas.
The arrest of Vincent Shoshwe, Sheilla Ndabani, Shepherd Gombwe, Simbarashe Nyamukachi, Joseph Raungana and Tichaona Munemo, brings to 16 the number of immigration workers who have been arrested at Victoria Falls and Kazungula border posts and the Victoria Falls International Airport within a month.
Shoshwe, Ndabani, Gombwe, Nyamukachi, Raungana and Munemo were arrested on Friday at their workplaces following an audit at the three ports of entry.
They were supposed to appear in court on Saturday, but prosecutors referred back documents to the police for further investigations as a full report from the auditors detailing amount stolen and nationalities of visitors is still pending. The auditors are from the Ministry of Home Affairs and have literally been camping in Victoria Falls for the past one month.
The six face fraud charges and will be summoned to court once investigations are complete.
Immigration Department principal director Mr Clemence Masango on Friday said the auditors would be stationed at the three entry points until a full report is compiled.
“Investigators are still on the ground in Victoria Falls as the audit is still underway and we will be guided by a report of findings. Where they go from there and what happens will be determined by their findings,” said Mr Masango. The Department of Immigration launched an audit at the three ports of entry following the arrest of Promise Miti (37), Maboreke Enock Takura (29), Nonhlanhla Nyathi (39), Aron Mamvura (40) and Patience Chivi (31) as well as Kushinga Goremusandu and James Marowa, whose ages were not given, at Victoria Falls International Airport.
Billy Nyasha (31), Shepherd Nyabanga (28) and MaClean Nhunge complete the list and were arrested at Kazungula border post.
They separately face fraud charges and will next appear on June 1. The 10 are out on $200 bail each. Allegations are that the workers, acting separately, attended to visitors from different countries and recorded lesser amounts on receipt books and pocketed the difference, thereby prejudicing the State of yet to be determined amounts of money.
British, American and Canadian visitors pay $55, $30, and $75 respectively for a single entry visa and the accused would allegedly record everyone as American and pocket the difference.
It is alleged that the crime has been happening for some time until recently when authorities within the Immigration Department noted some irregularities and launched an investigation.
The Immigration Department recently proposed suspension of issuance of visas, with Mr Masango saying the country should gradually move away from issuing such documents to tourists and focus more on maximising on revenues spent by visitors when they stay in the country.
He said while the Government generates revenue from issuing visas, this should not be the main focus as the real benefit that accrues to any economy from tourism is what tourists spend during their visit.