By Mutsa Makuvaza
SOUTH African Police Service officers in Gauteng have arrested a truck driver with 14 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe who were heading into Johannesburg.
In a statement on Twitter, Gauteng Police say the illegal immigrants alleged that they each paid the driver R1500 to transport them from Beitbridge border to Johannesburg.
Most of the immigrants were women, the statement says.
The police add that the truck driver was arrested for bribery after he offered the law enforcement agents certain amount for them to be allowed to go through the police blockade.
Earlier on Friday, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi expressed concern about “corruption on the Zimbabwe side of the Beitbridge Border Post” especially by armed security services who he said were taking bribes to help people cross the border illegally.
Motsoaledi said he knew of incidents where travellers with no Covid-19 certificates were “assisted” by Zimbabwean soldiers to manouvre the border procedures.
Speaking to SABC, Motsoaledi says corruption from the Zimbabwean side makes it difficult to deal with illegal immigrants who are trooping into South Africa as the economic downturn in Zimbabwe continues unabated.
“We are worried. We have said this before that we heard rumours that there are people who will come with fraudulent certificates and we have found them and we are returning them.
“We are arresting people with no documents; either Covid-19 or passport. Even yesterday, they arrested 500; that’s happening every day from what I told you. They showed me a video where Zimbabwean soldiers and police were helping people to come I asked ‘what’s that?’”
Motsoaledi also refuted suggestions on social media that there is a crisis at the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
He said he personally conducted an oversight visit from Sunday and the only concerns he witnessed were the illegal border crossing by Zimbabweans.
More than 700 people have been arrested for entering the country illegally from the Zimbabwean side over the two days he was at Beitbridge alone, he said.