TWO Zimbabwean border jumpers died, while another two were rescued, as they tried to cross the crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South Africa.
South African police said they arrested 73 other people who tried to enter into that country illegally after the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.
South Africa’s Limpopo province police spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said a total of 73 people were arrested for trying to cross into that country illegally and two drowned while trying to cross the Limpopo River.
Mulaudzi said despite the river being flooded, illegal immigrants were still taking chances.
He said the illegal crossings were no different to any other time of the year.
Mulaudzi said police operations were under way to destroy makeshift boats used by cross-border touts known as guma gumas to help illegal immigrants to cross the river.
“As police, we are concerned at the growing trend where the guma gumas ferry illegal immigrants for an agreed fee and in the middle of the river, they hike the price, which if they fail to pay, they throw them in the river,” he said.
The guma gumas are a syndicate of illegal cross-border guides operating from the Zimbabwean side and know the illegal routes well.
They charge as much as R350 per head to take people into SA. Most illegal cross borders are reportedly those who have been refused official entry for reasons ranging from unpaid fines, overstaying and lack of proper documentation.
South Africa’s immigration department was early this week reportedly restricting stay by Zimbabweans in that country, with some only being allowed to stay for as little as five days.