By Thupeyo Muleya
A 38-year-old Malawian truck driver is battling for life at Musina General Hospital in South Africa after he was shot in the head on Monday by two armed robbers.
The duo allegedly pounced on his vehicle along the N1 highway while he waited to be cleared for passage into the border.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said anyone with information about the suspects should contact the Musina Station Commander Colonel Mukwevho on 002782 759 4931 or the Crime Stop number 0027860010111.
“The police in Musina are appealing for information that will assist in tracing the suspects who, today Monday 29 March 2021, allegedly shot the truck driver and robbed him of an undisclosed amount of money as well as a cell phone along the N1 road next to the weighbridge,” he said.
“Two unknown suspects, one armed with a firearm, allegedly arrived at the truck and suddenly demanded money from the driver.”
Brig Mojapelo said the duo then shot and robbed him and fled into the bushes.
He said the injured victim was taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
Truck drivers are now spending relatively more time in queues on both the Zimbabwean and South African components of the border.
According to authorities in both countries, the volume of commercial trucks using Beitbridge started to increase late last year with transporters now avoiding the Botswana transit route due to very strict Covid-19 screening measures.
They said Botswana is retesting everyone entering or leaving through its borders even if the travellers have Covid-19 clearance certificates from their point of departure.
As a result, the truckers who used to cross from Zambia, Malawi, Angola, and DRC to South Africa through Groblersbrug Border are now using Beitbridge.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said recently that in December 2019, 6 706 trucks went through Groblersbrug compared to 2 968 trucks last year during the same period.
“This means only 45 percent of the total number of trucks processed last year went through Groblersbrug. In contrast, 19 800 trucks went through Beitbridge in December 2019, compared to 21 800 by December 27, 2020.
“A simple analysis will show that Groblersbrug had 3 738 fewer trucks last year compared to 2019, and at least 2 000 of these trucks found their way to Beitbridge, hence the congestion,” said the Minister.
Through the Inter-border Agencies, Zimbabwe and South Africa have been giving priority clearance to critical cargo to decongest the borders.
Under the current Covid-19 regulations in Zimbabwe and South Africa, commercial truck drivers should have clearance certificates valid for 30 days, while those using light commercial vehicles (rigid trucks) must retest after every 14 days. The Chronicle