Lebombo border post feels the heat

Alfred Moselakgomo

Officers at Lebombo border post need high-tech security devices, such as scanners, to detect a flood of goods being smuggled from Mocambique into South Africa.

Custom officials told Mpumalanga MEC for safety and security Siphosezwe Masango when he visited the border post near Komatipoort yesterday that they focused mainly on trucks, trailers and buses but could not detect the vast quantity of goods being smuggled across in bags, beds and boats.

Masango said the officers needed high-tech devices immediately to improve their efficiency over the busy festive season.

Officials expect more than 160000 people a day to cross either way at the border post.

The MEC said smugglers harmed the economy when they moved cheap, illegal and poisonous cigarettes, drugs and second-hand clothes from countries such as Mozambique into South Africa.

"This undermines and compromises our economy and subjects our people to danger," he said.

Masango complimented the border police for recently arresting members of vehicle theft syndicates and for stopping illegal goods from being shipped to and from Mozambique.

Last weekend border post officials seized eight vehicles worth R1,8million that were believed to have been stolen in South Africa.

"People who are struggling to pay their instalments take part in a scam in which they hand over their cars to be driven across the border," the MEC said.

"They then report their vehicles to the police as stolen and claim insurance."

The border police spoke of the unbearable working conditions they had to endure.

They said they needed a shelter and sun screens as the area was one of one of the hottest places in South Africa and the heat hampered their efficiency.