I boarded a cross border Toyota Quantum (popularly known as 'omalayitsha') on Friday night (13 July) in Johannesburg, on my way to Bulawayo. We arrived at the border at 4am. The ZIMRA official demanded, and was paid R800 for 'quick' processing of clearance procedures. Next up was the CID officer checking Temporary Import Permits for the car and trailer. He raised an issue with the trailer papers, and demanded R600 to allow us through. After negotiating with the driver, he eventually settled for R200.
As we made our way towards the gate, about 50m from the CID checkpoint, we were stopped by two uniformed officers who demanded to see our passports. They then asked for money from the driver, who gave them R50 as some form of 'protection fee' in future. At the gate, about 30m from the police officers, a rude female immigration officer stationed with VID officers also demanded to see our passports. She said something to me in Shona and when I told her her words were too deep for me to understand, a heated argument ensured, and the driver had to pay her R100 because she was threatening to detain us as 'punishment'.
Driving down 200m from the gate, police officers manning a roadblock in a Ford Ranger truck demanded R200, and were paid. Still in Beitbridge at the Masvingo turn, another roadblock, more ZRP officers, another R200. About 50km from Beitbridge, three ZRP officers in the middle of nowhere, R100 taken. Another roadblock awaited at Makhado, R200 paid. Just before West Nicholson, more policemen, and this time, the driver had no more cash, and had to borrow R100 from a female passenger.
At Gwanda, just before Joshua Mqabuko college, yet another set of starving policemen, the same lady had to lend the driver R100 more to pay the thugs. Upon driving out of Gwanda town, yet another roadblock, the passenger again lends the driver R100 more to pay up. We then encountered the BMW patrol vehicle 10km from Mballaballa, and the police officer asked for a re-test certificate from the driver.
Obviously, being SA based, he didn’t have it. The corrupt officer then demanded a spot fine of $20 or a bribe of R100. The driver explained to him how dry the other officers on the route had already sucked him. The officer would have none of it, got into the BMW and drove away towards Gwanda with the driver's licence and the TIP document.
Now we were stranded, waited for a while hoping the BMW would return, and after an hour in the scorching heat, I decided to take over the wheel as I had my licence on me. We paid a further $10 at the Mach Binding roadblock, and after seven long hours, we arrived in Bulawayo. After paying R2,150 and $10, we arrived in Bulawayo. Considering there are over 100 cross border vehicles passing through the border on a typical weekend, how much to the dirty and corrupt ZRP officers make? NAME WITHHELD, BulawayoPost published in: Letters to the Editor