Corruption Rampant at Zimbabwe’s Beitbridge Border Post

Travelers, Agents Fall Prey to Theft and Police Collusion at Major Entry Point

by Adenike Adeodun

At the bustling Beitbridge Border Post, Zimbabwe’s busiest port of entry, a crisis is unfolding. Travelers and legitimate shipping agents are increasingly falling victim to a network of pickpockets, bogus clearing agents, and touts—locally known as maguma-guma. These criminals operate under the watchful eyes of corrupt policemen who allegedly accept kickbacks while disrupting the work of bona fide officials.

The shipping and forwarding community has voiced serious concerns over the rising incidents of theft and deception. Travelers, including tourists, often lose substantial sums of money to well-orchestrated cons. Despite the frequency of these incidents, the acting commanding officer of Beitbridge ZRP district, Superintendent Makesure Horeka, claims ignorance of such reports. He questions why these incidents are reported to the media instead of directly to the police, implying a breakdown in communication or trust between the police force and the public.

An official from the Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association expressed frustration with the local police’s handling of these cases, describing reporting to the police as a “waste of time.” This sentiment stems from several instances where shipping agents were arrested only to be released later without charges. This cycle not only tarnishes the reputation of legitimate agents but also leaves their clients vulnerable to fraudsters.

The border post is designated as a protected area, and all operators within are supposed to be registered with the Department of Customs and Excise and carry accreditation cards. However, the reality is far from this orderly scenario. Unregistered policemen and government officials are often implicated in the chaos, with some allegedly directing travelers to bogus agents who kick back a share of their illicit earnings.

The use of private security companies to bolster border security has done little to stem the tide of corruption. Some security personnel have been jailed for complicity in crimes at the border, further complicating the situation.

The plight of travelers at Beitbridge is highlighted by several distressing anecdotes. Jacques Alizart, a South African heading to Victoria Falls, was robbed of over R5,000 under the guise of securing a Temporary Import Permit. Although he managed to identify the culprits on security footage, they were released after he could not attend court. Similarly, a group of tourists was defrauded by bogus agents using information supplied by corrupt officials.

Compounding the issue are the severe consequences faced by motorists duped by these criminal networks. Several have had their vehicles and other possessions seized by customs officials after being tricked into using fraudulent documentation, such as fake Temporary Import Permits and doctored invoices. These incidents underline the deep-seated corruption and the ineffectiveness of current measures to safeguard travelers.

The recurring theme is the urgent need for reform at Beitbridge. The government’s piecemeal approach, marked by the sporadic hiring of private security, is clearly insufficient. What is required is a comprehensive overhaul of border management, emphasizing transparency, accountability, and the strict enforcement of regulations to restore integrity to one of Zimbabwe’s most critical points of entry.

The situation at Beitbridge Border Post serves as a microcosm of the challenges facing Zimbabwe at large—corruption, inadequate oversight, and a lack of punitive measures for misconduct. For the thousands who pass through Beitbridge daily, the border is not just a crossing point but a hazardous gauntlet, where the unscrupulous thrive at the expense of the innocent. Addressing these issues is not just about improving border security but about fostering a safer, more reliable gateway into the heart of Zimbabwe.


Source: Newsday

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