Border beefed up

Safety’s Themba Mavundla. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

Following a spike in cross-border crimes in the Mkhanyakude district neighbouring Mozambique, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has finally stepped up the offensive against cross-border criminals who have been terrorising communities.

Criminals in the area have been taking advantage of the porous border with more than 200 illegal entry points, stealing vehicles from locals then smuggling them to Mozambique.

“As we speak, jersey barriers as well as railway sleepers are being installed and we believe this will go a long way to reducing theft in the area as criminals will no longer be able to use illegal entry points to smuggle stolen vehicles,” KZN head of community safety Themba Mavundla said.

He said the provincial government had to step up its anti crime initiatives in the area following pleas from communities residing near the KZN/Mozambique border.

“We are not talking about soft criminals here, these are ruthless criminals who use violence to get what they want. In some cases they break into people’s home and attack innocent people.”

In November, the department had to beef up security in the Mkhanyakude district following threats by locals to attack Mozambican nationals following the spike in cross-border crimes in the area.

The locals had accused Mozambicans living in the area of colluding with a crime syndicate from that country in the theft of vehicles and other items.

Mavundla said local communities have since partnered with the provincial government in the fight against cross-border crime in the area.

However, while the provincial government was doing its utmost to address the problems, it faces obstacles, including one emanating from the fact that borders are a national competency.

“We can’t just implement things on our own, we need to work with the national government and in some instances the Mozambican government.”

The provincial government is trying to raise R128m for the construction of a barrier stretching 25km along the border.

Clive Ndou