Police have arrested 275 border jumpers, including 23 minors after they allegedly attempted to cross into South Africa without valid travel documents at Beitbridge Border Post as the police services increase patrols along the borders.
Some of the suspects were fined, while others are expected to appear in court soon after undergoing a screening and verifications exercise.
The 23 minors have since been taken to the custody of officials from the Social Welfare Department as investigations continue.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests and warned the public against entering or exiting the country through illegal points.
He said police will continue making patrols and arresting anyone found on the wrong side of the law during this period where smuggling and border jumping cases are rife.
“A total of 275 people were arrested while trying to cross into South Africa without any valid travel documents at Beitbridge Border Post. Of these, 23 are minors and they are now in the Social Welfare Department’s custody.
“They have since commenced the Covid-19 screening and the identification of their parents is also underway,” he said.
He said the police is firm on the ground to ensure that people enjoy a crime and accident free environment.
The public have since been urged to report at any nearest police station on any crime matters countrywide.
Last month, at least 40 border jumpers were arrested in Beitbridge after they allegedly attempted to enter into the country from South Africa through illegal entry points as security forces tightens security along the borders.
The arrests came after police recently stepped up patrols and checks along roads leading to and from the country’s inland borders to fight rampant cases of smuggling.
Police in Beitbridge also arrested three suspects for smuggling clothes and shoes from South Africa worth more than R20 000 and they were made to pay duty for the goods, which was valued at R20 804.
During the same period, they also arrested two motorists along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Highway for under-declaring goods at the Beitbridge Border Post during the customs clearance process.
A 60-year-old woman was arrested along Masvingo-Beitbridge Road at a roadblock after being found in possession of Broncleer and Adco-Salterpyn syrup concealed in her travelling bags.
The Government has beefed up security along its border with South Africa to curb intrusive leakages and other rent-seeking activities, which could be costing the country more than US$1 billion annually in unpaid customs duty.
State Security Minister Owen Ncube and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe together with Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Director-General Ambassador Isaac Moyo, recently visited Beitbridge Border Post to assess the state of security and the level of crime along the border.
The delegation also visited the River Ranch illegal crossing point situated about 30km west of Beitbridge town.
The area is used by smugglers due to its close proximity to both the Beitbridge to Bulawayo and Beitbridge to Harare highways.