Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
A 38-year-old Zimbabwean man employed by a South Africa parlour as a hearse driver, was on Thursday jailed 15 years for smuggling explosives worth R420 000 into the neighbouring country through Beitbridge Border Post.
Wisper Ndiweni was in July found with the explosives hidden in the hearse as he returned to South Africa after delivering a corpse for burial in Zimbabwe.
Since then, he has been in remand prison until his conviction and sentencing at the Musina Regional Court yesterday.
Ndiweni was arrested by South Africa’s organised crime-busting unit, the Hawks.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo province, Captain Matimba Maluleke said they were not relenting on their crackdown on crime in the province and the borderline.
He said they were making many arrests and breaking syndicates which push contraband.
“On July 26, 2020, at Beitbridge Border Post, the police were busy with their routine stop and search duties when they stopped a hearse that was coming from Zimbabwe and searched it.
“Instead of finding a coffin in the hearse, they discovered explosives with an estimated value of over R420 000 and subsequently arrested Ndiweni who was the driver of the vehicle,” said Captain Maluleke.
He said the accused had on several occasions tried to secure bail without success.
“This is a second jail sentence imposed on explosives’ smugglers in the month of December alone,” he said.
Captain Maluleke said two others, Patson Banda (25) and Life Mbazi (33) were recently sentenced to 15 years’ direct imprisonment by the Musina Magistrate’s Court for smuggling explosives.
The smuggling of explosives into South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post and the Limpopo River has become a perennial headache for security authorities in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
It is understood that explosives are used to bomb ATM or illegal mining activities in the Free State and Gauteng Provinces.
Over 30 people including Zimbabweans and South Africans have been arrested along the two countries’ boundary while smuggling explosives worth millions of dollars in the last two years.
The major source of the explosives is yet to be ascertained though it is believed the product is being obtained mostly around mining towns.