CROSS-BORDER bus operators have been urged to scan passengers for arms as on-board robberies spike on the N1 highway linking Johannesburg and Beitbridge Border Post.
It is understood the robbers board the buses in Johannesburg posing as ordinary passengers, but along the way turn against passengers and bus crews, robbing them of cash and goods.
The call was made during a recent inter-border stakeholders’ meeting held in Beitbridge, where cross-border traders from both Zimbabwe and South Africa revealed that most bus robberies occurred between Pretoria and Polokwane.
The meeting recommended that bus operators must scan and search passengers for weapons as they boarded the vehicles.
It was also recommended that Home Affairs departments from both countries should scrutinise the passenger manifest and investigate any missing passengers.
“If the passengers are not present in the bus, the matter should be reported to Interpol or South African Police Services,” the minutes of the meeting read.
It was also agreed that cross-border buses travelling to South Africa should compile a passenger list according to the sitting arrangement. The buses are not allowed to carry passengers that drop off before crossing into the next country.
Several Zimbabweans aboard buses to and from Johannesburg have in the past fallen victim to such rehearsed robberies around the Mogkopane area.
Stakeholders also recommended that there be regular patrols between the SA border post and Musina, where a number of robberies have been reported.
Meanwhile, people walking between the Zimbabwe and SA border posts no longer use the old Beit Bridge after 5pm, following a spate of robberies and thefts on the 472-metre long bridge. It is reported that several pedestrians have fallen victim to snatch-and-dash robbers who grab bags despite the presence of police from both countries on their respective ends of the bridge.
“Many people have been attacked by these thieves who appear from the railway side and disappear after snatching goods,” a vendor, who sells water on the bridge, said.
Police and soldiers posted on the bridge are said to be neglecting their duties as they were not patrolling.
“We pack and go at around 5pm because it will no longer be safe,” the vendor said.
The old bridge, after which the border town is named, was closed to road traffic when the new toll bridge was opened in 1995. It’s now reserved for pedestrians and trains.
In June last year Beitbridge Senator Tambudzani Mohadi expressed concern over the safety of people crossing the Beit Bridge on foot after a Zimbabwean man was robbed and fatally stabbed before being thrown off the bridge.