23 Zimbabweans have been arrested in South African by the Police Services (Saps), who recovered 10 kilogrammes of dagga, equipment and other smuggled goods in the process, as the authorities step up their operation against illicit cross-border activities.

Among the confiscated items were five donkey-drawn carts and the donkeys as well as a home-made ladder.  Saps also destroyed a fabricated wood bridge on the western side of Beitbridge Border Post.

Apart from the arrested 23 Zimbabweans, foreigners in South Africa have been accused of robbery and other criminal conduct. Some Zimbabwean national in South Africa have begged for repatriation amid allegations that they were victims of xenophobia.

In a statement on Monday this week, Saps said its Border Policing Team, through the High Density Operation, Vala Umgodi, arrested foreign nationals for contravening the Immigration Act.

In a statement by Colonel Malesela Ledwaba from Limpopo province, Saps said the confiscated items were recovered in the Marooi area in Vhembe district between Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21, 2024.

“The police, during their disruptive operation, have confiscated a number of illegal equipment that is believed to be used for smuggling persons and counterfeit goods at Limpopo River between Zimbabwe and South Africa,” the statement read.

Ledwaba said the border patrol had also discovered abandoned cargo worth thousands of South African rands and dagga weighing about 9,5kg along the borderline during patrols.

“A total of 23 foreign nationals were arrested within the vicinity of Beitbridge port of entry on Sunday 21 April, 2024 and they were referred to the immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs to be processed for direct deportation back to their countries of origin,” Saps said.

Smugglers have built several wooden bridges at different points of the Limpopo River where they also operate rafts and inflatable boats to carry contraband and border jumpers criss-crossing the two countries’ common border.

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