Zimbabwe is being used by scores of illegal immigrants from the Great Lakes region as a gateway into South Africa, the Herald Online reports today.
Chief immigration officer Clemence Masango told the state controlled paper that a syndicate in Zimbabwe was helping illegal immigrants from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Burundi, Somalia, Eritrea, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo enter the country.
“We are aware of this scam and strongly suspect that it is a well-organised human trafficking syndicate,” said Masango.
“There is also reason to suspect that our own people, especially at the entry points, are involved in this collusion” he said.
Two weeks ago, some 60 Somalis entered Zimbabwe illegally but later handed themselves over to the police.
Masango said most of the immigrants stayed in Zimbabwe or proceed to South Africa.
He said a suspected syndicate leader ran a shop selling electrical goods in Harare. He allegedly facilitated the entry at a cost of US$-5 000 in return for false identity documents and a hideout place.
The suspect was also allegedly involved in a syndicate with court officials to facilitate marriages with Zimbabweans, which would secure resident permits for the foreigners.
If the illegal immigrants decided to stay Zimbabwe, he also allegedly demanded a monthly fee for their safety.