Four Zimbabweans have been arrested for smuggling alcohol into South Africa.
The quartet separately crossed into South Africa with bottles of whisky through the Beitbridge port, but after a tip-off.
Smuggling has reportedly worsened in Beitbridge after a boundary fence was vandalised by criminals.
The latest arrests followed South Africa’s recent ban on alcohol sales to curb Covid-19.
According to the South African Police Services (SAPS), the suspects will face charges relating to contravention of the Covid-19 regulations in the neighbouring country.
“The Covid-19 operations which were conducted in the Musina and Makhado policing areas yielded positive results for arresting three Zimbabwean nationals after they were found trying to smuggle alcohol into the Republic of South Africa through Beitbridge Port of entry,” SAPS said in a statement.
“The law enforcement agencies vowed that there will be no stone that will be left unturned. After receiving the information about the smuggled alcohol, the Makhado Cluster Crime Intelligence with the assistance of SAPS Makhado and Musina put in place a sting joint operation that led to the arrest of these suspects while travelling in a Mercedes Benz which was abruptly stopped, searched and alcohol to the value of R6 000 was recovered and confiscated and the vehicle was impounded.”
In another incident, a woman was arrested at the same place after being found in possession of alcohol worth R6 000 which was also to be smuggled into South Africa.
The alcohol was confiscated.
Large numbers of people continue to cross the border at Beitbridge despite the erection of a 40 kilometre stretch of fence.
The fence has cost R37 million so far and is aimed at stopping criminals and Zimbabweans from crossing to South Africa.
According to media reports, smugglers on foot and using donkey carts brave the murky and crocodile-infested Limpopo River to illegally take goods across the border.
Some of them are as young as 12-years-old.
They operate from an informal settlement near the banks of the river.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo was quoted on Saturday, saying they informed their Zimbabwean counterparts about such activities.
“During the joint operations they detected people trying to cross the river from Zimbabwe coming into South Africa,” he said.
“As a result of this, seven people were arrested. They are currently in police custody. We are busy processing them. There were others who escaped back into Zimbabwe and the authorities in Zimbabwe have been alerted.”
Some of the people staying at that informal settlement are South Africans.