By Rex Mphisa
A 34 year old man from Bulawayo was last week arrested by the South African police at the Beitbridge border post for attempting to smuggle mining explosives into that country.
The explosives were concealed in four 20-litre plastic containers carried on in a trailer of a car.
In a statement on Friday, Limpopo Province police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the suspect was arrested at dusk as he tried to drive into South Africa through Beitbridge.
“The suspect initially told the officials on duty that the containers had oil and he was directed to the baggage scanner,” he said.
“ When the containers were subsequently opened, 398 pieces of blasting cartridges (explosive gel) were found and the suspect was immediately arrested.
“The suspect, who is from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe will soon appear at the Musina magistrate court on charges of possession of explosive materials.
“The motive for this smuggling is not known at this stage and police investigations are continuing.”
Several Zimbabweans have in the past been arrested at the same border post for similar offenses and at least three are known to be serving 25-year jail terms for the same.
It is suspected the explosives are used in high profile crime including blasting of cash in transit vehicles and automated teller machines.
The prevalence of arrests of people smuggling such explosives in South Africa is regular and widespread.
On March 14, a man and a woman were arrested at the same border post while carrying R250 000 worth of explosives.
Three men were on April 28 this year intercepted at the same border as they were travelling from Zimbabwe to South Africa with explosives valued at US$30 000.
On August 6, 2018 a man and a woman from Zimbabwe were nabbed on the South African side of Beitbridge when explosives whose values were not provided were discovered.
It is not clear if authorities in Zimbabwe have established the source of the explosives and how they find their way into South Africa in the presence of hundreds of police, Central Intelligence Office operatives, military intelligence details, customs and excise officials and other security deployments at Beitbridge.