By Thupeyo Muleya
The Department of Immigration and other border agencies have arrested a 30-year-old man believed to be part of a syndicate using fake immigration and customs stamps to clear travellers and goods between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Trust Dhliwayo of Dulivhadzimo suburb in Beitbridge is the second suspect to be arrested in as many weeks.
He was arrested in an early morning raid at his house after he had endorsed the immigrations and customs stamps for seven Zimbabweans travelling from South Africa on Saturday evening.
Sources close to the investigations said Dhliwayo was found with six fake immigration stamps (South Africa Immigration), one fake (South African Customs), four fake Zimbabwe Immigration stamps, two Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) stamps, four fake South African Permits, one fake Zimbabwe Defensive Driver’s Licence, three ink pads and two ink bottles.
“He has since been handed over to the police,” said the source.
Dhliwayo becomes the second suspect to be arrested after opening an illegal immigration office at the border, following the arrest of one Munyaradzi Shope last week while clearing travellers using a fake immigration stamp from his Toyota Fun Cargo.
The Department of Immigration has deployed a Regional Compliance and Enforcement Unit to deal with issues of child smuggling, rent-seeking activities and irregular migration at the country’s and Sadc’s busiest inland port.
The Assistant Regional Immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge Mr Nqobile Ncube said; “We are not backing down, let all those involved in this racket be warned. Their days are numbered.
“We are working with other border agencies to put an end to this vice.
“These abet criminal activities and cause loss of revenue to the State. They help wanted criminals to move undetected,” said Mr Ncube.
He said they had adequately deployed to all key points to reduce incidents of irregular migration (border jumping) especially where children are invloved.
He said they had come up with a number of strategies to deal with the rackets clearing people using fake immigration and customs stamps.
“Dhliwayo was arrested after we intercepted some of his clients. The matter is now under police investigations,” he said.
The Chronicle is reliably informed that citizens of the two countries most of whom are Zimbabweans illegally living in South Africa occasionally give cross-border bus drivers or wheeler dealers their passports for endorsement at the border.
It would then appear as if they would have returned to Zimbabwe at some point and this “legalises” their stay in that country and in most cases they use fake immigration stamps.
The use of fake immigration stamps has become an eternal headache for the two governments’ border authorities.
Over 20 people have been arrested while over 60 fake immigration stamps were recovered by security agencies at Beitbridge over the last 12 months.
Under South Africa’s immigration laws, Zimbabweans are allowed a stay of not more than 90 days in that country per year.
However, immigration officers at the border are reluctant to give Zimbabweans more days in that country.
This has seen some syndicates exploiting an opportunity to award people 90 days per single entry, for a fee.
They charge anything between R1 500 and R2 500 depending on the period one has overstayed in either Zimbabwe or South Africa. The Chronicle