By Thupeyo Muleya
A security officer with a South African bus company, Wayne Majere (25), has been fined $10 000 by a Beitbridge magistrate for attempting to smuggle 13 Zimbabweans, who had been deported from South Africa, back into that country.
The 13 are part of 124 Zimbabweans, who had just been deported from Lindela Holding Centre, South Africa, for violating that country’s immigration laws.
These had arrived aboard a bus carrying 51 people and dropped 38 others at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) hotel.
The place is being used as a quarantine, isolation, and transit centre by the Government for those returning from Eswatini, Lesotho, and South Africa.
Under the current set up, all those returning under the Government or self-assisted facility are subject to undergo mandatory screening at the centre.
Majere was arrested together with Robson Siyabonga, (47), Lisa Nyathi (30), and Vincent Sikonka (31) all employed by CAG buses in South Africa.
Charges against Siyabonga, Sikonka, and Nyathi were withdrawn in court after Majere exonerated them.
He indicated that he had connived with another accomplice who was in South Africa. Majere was convicted on his own plea of guilty for facilitating illegal migration when he appeared before Beitbridge resident magistrate, Mr Toyindepi Zhou.
Prosecuting, Mr Ronald Mugwagwa told the court that on November 11, the accused arrived in the country from South Africa escorting two buses that were carrying 124 Zimbabweans.
These were deported from Lindela Holding Centre by road and had violated various immigration laws in the neighbouring country.
Mr Mugwagwa said the accused was aboard a bus carrying 51 deportees. The court heard that on reaching the quarantine centre, Majere collected money from 13 immigrants who wanted to return to South Africa illegally.
He ordered the 13 to hide under the seats while the other 38 disembarked from the bus. Mr Mugwagwa said after collecting the money, Majere left NSSA hotel with the immigrants hiding under the seats.
However, their luck ran out when they were intercepted by a security team comprising of police officers and soldiers while they were about to leave for South Africa.
The security officers searched the bus as per standard procedure leading to the discovery of 13 people. They accompanied the bus back to the NSSA Hotel, where the 13 were taken for screening and further management.
Incidents of South African officials smuggling contraband and Zimbabweans deported from the neighbouring country trying to sneak back into the neighbouring country are common at Beitbridge. The officials charge varying fees depending on the destination of illegal immigrants.
In 2006, two South African immigration officials and a Zimbabwean were arrested at the same border post for attempting to smuggle 100 pieces of ivory and 400 bricks of cigarettes worth several billions of dollars.
A South African Home Affairs Ministry official’s truck was used to smuggle the contraband. The Herald.