The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Tuesday impounded a cross border bus that illegally ferried passengers from South Africa through the Beitbridge border post.
Early this year, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Health and Child Care minister, gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 87A of 2021, which banned the movement of non-essential service providers across the borders to avoid spread of Covid 19.
The same instrument also banned movement during night curfew hours and announced closure of all land borders to non-essential service providers.
In May this year, Information for Development Trust (IDT) partnered with The Standard in an investigation that revealed that long distance bus operators were bribing authorities to enable them to smuggle travellers dominated by informal traders into and back from South Africa.
The offending buses violated set anti-Covid regulations, travelling through curfews and failing to sanitise or maintain social distance.
The ZRP has since launched an operation against the smuggler buses, which have almost disappeared from the highways after the recent tightening of lockdown regulations that include a re-ban of inter-provincial travel.
On Tuesday, 13 July 2021, national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, announced that they had impounded a Sable Buses Company coach in Marondera for flouting lockdown travel restrictions. Sable is among the operators named in our May investigation.
“The ZRP confirms that a Sable bus which had 38 passengers was impounded whilst offloading goods and some of the passengers at Metro Pitch Marondera. The passengers had no Covid-19 test certificates,” said Nyathi in a statement.
He added that the bus crew had been arrested and would appear in court in due course.
“The bus company is now facing criminal charges while the passengers have been taken to Mahusekwa hospital for isolation. No to smuggling activities and spreading of Covid-19 pandemic,” said Nyathi.
The police spokesperson also revealed that some of the passengers in the bus had tested positive for Covid-19 and investigations on how the bus crossed the border had started.
“The bus had come from SA (South Africa) in circumstances which are being investigated by the police. Ministry of Health and Child Care officials tested the passengers with 3 registering Covid-19 positive results while the other 35 tested negative,” said Nyathi.
Physical checks at the Roadport, High Glen and Mbudzi terminuses in Harare revealed that buses which used to smuggle passengers to South Africa had disappeared.
The terminuses that used to be busy were deserted when Grazers News visited them, with a few inactive coaches having been left at the High Glen shopping centre.
Recently Nyathi said the ZRP and other security services had launched an operation dubbed “No To Cross Border Crimes/Fhasi Ngamilandu Yamukanoni Yamashango/Mhosva Pamiganhu Ngadzipere/ Amacala Kawaphele Emingceleni Yelizwe”, with the intention to curb smuggling and border jumping on the country’s borders.
He said 30 579 people had been arrested under the operation.