South Africa on Thursday deployed 200 fully equipped border guards to the Beitbridge border post, which links the country with Zimbabwe.
The guards fall under the newly established Border Management Authority (BMA) and will work with Zimbabwe’s border patrol, which consists of the police and the military.
Speaking during the unveiling of the unit in Musina last week, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the guards would seek to stem criminal activities in the border region.
“We are determined to [turn] the transformed border into one of the best crime-free facilities,” he added.
He said those selected underwent intensive training and would work with other state security agencies.
This unit will be tactically deployed at the identified five vulnerable segments of the border line, working together with members of the South African National Defence Force.
Beitbridge is the busiest land border linking South Africa with the outside world. Zimbabwe collects on average R4 million per day at the new one-stop terminal, while an average of a thousand trucks are cleared daily.
Official estimates indicate that about 15,000 people use the border daily.
According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), the Beitbridge border is a corruption hotspot.
Several Zimra officers were arrested last month after failing to explain how they had accumulated their wealth after lifestyle audits were conducted.
Zimra loss control manager Selleck Mapfeka said when he appeared before Parliament last week: “We are currently investigating three officers who built mansions in Harare, but failed to explain how they acquired the wealth following a lifestyle audit.”
South African and Zimbabwean border control officers have in the past been arrested for being part of smuggling syndicates.
As such, Motsoaledi said the BMA guards will be subjected to routine lifestyle audits.
According to Trustworthy Manatsire, the regional immigration officer in charge on the Zimbabwean side of the border, they have been arresting on average 200 offenders daily since last month. They include undocumented travellers using the border, “border jumpers”, vehicles, and cigarette smugglers.