By Thupeyo Muleya
Border authorities have opened investigations into the incident where one of the over 36 security cameras at Beitbridge Border Post was stolen during a power blackout recently.
The theft came to light last Saturday when security agents discovered that a key area used by smugglers and illegal immigrants had gone off the radar.
Sources at the border said that camera number 21, which monitored the area around the duty free shop, a checkpoint manned by soldiers and members of the Police Support Unit was still missing.
The area around the duty free shop is used by conmen, touts, smugglers who use bicycles and border jumpers to access the border post.
“We suspect the camera was stolen during a power blackout and the suspect(s) are not known yet, but we are certain this was a well-planned job by the criminals,” said an official at the border.
“Investigations are in progress and nobody has been arrested yet,” Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Inspector Philisani Ndebele said he was yet to receive information on the matter.
“We are yet to get that report and I cannot give you any information at the moment,” he said.
Over 15 people, including, police, immigrations, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials and soldiers have been arrested since August last year for various crimes at the border post. These were mostly caught on camera taking bribes from either smugglers or illegal immigrants.
The close circuit cameras are part of a raft of upgrade on security measures at the border, as Government seeks to reduce incidents of corruption and smuggling at the ports of entry.
So far, Government has secured at total of $600 000 which has been used to, among other things, buy border patrol vehicles, lie detectors, mineral and metal detectors, patrol motor bikes, secret cameras and repairing the border parameter fence which had been vandalised by criminals.
The CCTVs were installed at points unknown to border officials.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said during a recent visit to Beitbridge that corruption was affecting Government’s revenue collection capacity, adding that Zimra was collecting $800 000 against a daily target of $1,2 million.
Dr Chombo, who heads a Cabinet crack team set up to look into operations and reducing smuggling activities, said the country was losing potential revenue through underhand dealings at Beitbridge Border Post.