The COVID-19 lockdown has left informal businesses that rely on cross-border trade in a pickle. The borders remain close and getting goods the usual way by road transport has become harder. This has led to a massive spike in smuggling through the border and other illegal crossing points. On Friday two buses were caught and impounded with goods worth over R150 000 (US$10 000).

On 13/08/21, Police in Mashava impounded 2 buses, (MVI Coaches bus and Clarity Coaches bus) and arrested the drivers for smuggling and contravening COVID-19 regulations.

The 2 buses were intercepted at a traffic checkpoint at the 41km peg along Masvingo-Mbalabala Rd, with smuggled goods worth approximately ZAR 150 000. One of the buses had 18 passengers while the other one had 3 passengers.

ZRP statement on the incidents

The two drivers of the buses have since been taken into custody and are facing charges of smuggling and violating COVID-19 regulations. According to the police about 54 buses were caught for the same offences between 1 March and 28 April alone.

This highlights how the pandemic has made cross border trade difficult for small operators who now have to jump through hoops in order to comply with numerous regulations. Desperate to make a living it seems some are now willing to break the law in order to continue trading.