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Thursday / 20 June 2024
HomeNewsCriminals are building ramps to smuggle cars across South Africa’s borders

Criminals are building ramps to smuggle cars across South Africa’s borders

Criminal syndicates smuggling cars are now using makeshift steel ramps to move the vehicles across the border fence from South Africa to Mozambique.

The KwaZulu-Natal government recently brought this issue to light during a presentation on the progress of the Kosi Bay border project, which has resulted in a concrete fence being erected along the border between the province and Mozambique to impede smuggling efforts.

An ongoing problem

South Africa has a long-running problem with vehicles being hijacked and stolen to be moved across the border into neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Many of these cars are stolen from provinces like Gauteng and are quickly moved into other provinces, such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KZN, before they are smuggled across the border.

The Border Management Authority recently told The Witness that the topography in northern KZN made it easy for criminals to move stolen vehicles for many years because the terrain is level.

When the smugglers reached the border fence, they would simply remove the front and back bumpers of the cars before ramming through the obstacle, which is why the government has since constructed new concrete fences to replace the old ones as part of the Kosi Bay border project.

This has made it harder for criminals to move stolen goods, as they are now forced to use more creative strategies to navigate the barriers, such as making steel ramps to drive the cars up and over the fence into Mozambique.

The border project, estimated at R270.9 million, is broken up into phases, with the completed phase one covering a 50km stretch between KZN and Mozambique. The second phase, which will commence on 30 September 2024, will address a 540km section of the border between South Africa and Eswatini.

The project was first mooted in 2017 following concerns from the Umkhanyakude District Municipality in KZN over growing criminal activities in the area, including the illegal movement of people and goods between South Africa and Mozambique.

Cars being smuggled through a village in South Africa.

Car smugglers in charge of rural villages

Car smuggling has become such a large problem in South Africa that small villages close to the border are effectively being taken over by criminals.

A recent example is the village of Dludluma in Mpumalanga where cars, cigarettes, and even people are trafficked across the border to Mozambique.

The wire fence separating the two countries has been cut at regular 10-metre intervals to make it easier to move large objects such as vehicles, and local residents have spoken to news organizations saying they no longer feel safe inside their homes.

The criminals also attempt to recruit the younger people in the villages, which is a tempting prospect as there are few employment prospects in the area.

The South African Police Services stated that it had already arrested 13 suspects and recovered 30 stolen vehicles from the area between January and February, and that most of the cars were traced back to Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

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