POLICE have intensified investigations into circumstances surrounding the death of four foreigners whose bodies were found near Suswe Pass in Mudzi on Tuesday.
The four, whose identities are unknown, are believed to have suffocated in a container used by human traffickers before their bodies were dumped at the side of the Harare-Nyamapanda Road.
The bodies were taken to a hospital in Mudzi where police have begun taking fingerprints, and with the help of Interpol, hope to identify them.
Investigations revealed that the four are all foreigners since police discovered some foreign contacts and other valuables that the deceased were in possession of when they were found.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed that they had engaged Interpol to assist with investigations.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that the deceased are foreign nationals who could have died in a container due to suffocation while in transit before their bodies were dumped in the bush. The ZRP has since engaged Interpol for further investigations in terms of victim identification and for the law to take its course for possible suspects,” he said.
The bodies were discovered on Tuesday in Mudzi near the 174km peg along the Harare–Nyamapanda Road.
Asst Comm Nyathi reiterated that they will continue tightening security countrywide.
In August, police intensified investigations into the case in which they had unearthed a human trafficking syndicate involving a gang of criminals who are using the country as a transit point to transport their victims to neighbouring countries.
This came after police had arrested more than 171 foreigners in separate incidents.
Most of the foreigners, who had no travel documents, were arrested while being transported by local bus operators in Gweru and Murehwa.
In Murehwa, police intercepted 86 foreigners, while in Gweru, another 82 more were arrested. Three others were arrested in Murehwa while they were looking for transport to Nyamapanda Border Post.
Investigations revealed that these foreigners were being transported to South Africa. They were all still assisting police with investigations awaiting deportation once all the procedures have been followed.
Recently, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said security had been tightened at all border points as Government sought to end unauthorised crossings of organised criminal gangs likely to be ferrying child victims of human trafficking.
Investigations into several child trafficking cases were also underway to ensure those caught were adequately punished.
Interpol recently started helping law enforcement agents, including the Zimbabwe Republic Police, to dismantle human trafficking criminal networks by promoting international police co-operation and the use of the organisation’s policing capabilities. By engaging in these operations, member countries work in close partnership in ongoing criminal investigations, strengthening their controls to identify victims of trafficking in borders and hotspots.
Interpol said human trafficking constitutes a modern form of slavery, denying people their dignity and basic rights.
It is a crime that knows no borders, affecting people of all ages and regions throughout the world. In the eyes of organised-crime networks, victims of this crime are a commodity for economic profit, to be exploited and sold.
Such networks make large profits through human trafficking as they subject their victims to mental and physical abuse.
Trafficking can take on many forms. It’s constant feature, however, is the exploitation of vulnerabilities. Examples include, among others, cases of labour exploitation in areas like construction, fishing and agriculture; forced criminality, sexual exploitation and organ removal. This year’s focus was on the role of technology as a tool that can both facilitate and impede human trafficking.