Woman nabbed with explosives at Beitbridge border


JOHANNESBURG — A woman was arrested at the Beitbridge border post when mining explosives were allegedly found in her bag on Monday, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) said.

Customs officials conducted a random check of baggage in a bus crossing into South Africa from Zimbabwe, spokesperson Marika Muller said in a statement.

They found an unlabelled bag and asked for the owner.

“A female passenger came forward and informed the official the bag contained groundnuts,” Muller said.

“However, when the official conducted a manual search he found a black plastic bag concealed in the groundnuts.

“When questioned, the passenger attempted to flee, but was brought back.”

The bag was found to contain packages with labels indicating the contents were mining-related.

“The passenger and her luggage were taken to the South African Police Service (Saps) station at Beitbridge and the bag was confirmed as containing 54 packs of mining explosives, 150 detonators and nine detonator cords valued at over R320 000,” Muller said.

She said the woman told officers she sold the explosives to illegal miners in Gauteng. On Sunday several bundles of wiring used for explosives were found abandoned in the transit area at Beitbridge, Muller said.

Meanwhile, illicit cigarettes and ivory were found at border posts with South Africa’s neighbours over the past week.

Contraband cigarettes valued at over R770 000 were seized at the Beitbridge border post with Zimbabwe on December 22, Muller said in a statement.

A Sars official was conducting random checks of trucks coming into South Africa from Zimbabwe.

He recognised one which had crossed into Zimbabwe a few days previously, declared as empty, and which was now returning, still declared empty.

“Checks confirmed the body had been newly-painted and it appeared that a number of panels had been replaced,” Muller said.

“The vehicle’s refrigerator system was also not functioning.

“The vehicle was taken back to the Zimbabwean side of the border to be scanned, and on the basis of those images as well as the initial suspicions, a decision was taken to cut it open.

“The cigarettes were found in a false compartment.”

On December 23, 5,2kg of ivory valued at over R16 000 was found concealed in the engine compartment of a bus crossing into South Africa from Zimbabwe.

— Sapa/ANN7