By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
18 July 2014
Fourteen Zimbabweans were expected to appear in a South African court Friday for trying to smuggle explosives worth $350,000 into that country.
The suspects were arrested Wednesday after illegally crossing the Limpopo River into the neighbouring country with 100 detonators and cartridges in their bags.
South African authorities suspect the devices are used in illegal mining and in automated teller machine robberies.
Just last month a Bulawayo woman, Sibonginkosi Mhlakanipiswa, was arrested after trying to sneak into SA with 80 explosive devices. A SA court in Musina convicted and fined her for importing, supplying or possessing an explosive.
In November last year, the same Musina court convicted two other Zimbabweans of similar offences. Zikhala Busane had tried to smuggle into SA 26 explosives while Elita Sibanda had in her possession 26 plastic cartridges and 100 detonators.
Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis has forced many people to flee the country in search of better lives in the region, mainly to South Africa and Botswana.
But for the many Zimbabweans without professional qualifications life is not always easy in these countries and, unable to secure jobs or legal status to stay on in these countries, some turn to a life of crime; stealing, prostitution, or mining illegally.
Criminal elements have also taken advantage of the lawlessness in Zimbabwe, and the relative ease of illegally crossing the border into SA or Botswana, and have extended their activities into these countries.
South Africans and Tswanas occasionally vent their resentment of Zimbabweans through xenophobic attacks, and largely blame the visitors for the rising crime stats and lack of jobs in those countries.
Between 2 to 4 million Zimbabweans are estimated to be living in South Africa alone, having fled the crisis back home.