South African man jailed in Zimbabwe for smuggling pistol and 50 bullets

30-year-old Tshililo Mathabi from Thohoyandou, in Limpopo, was arrested in Zimbabwe and charged for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. File Picture

A 30-year-old South African man has appeared before the Beitbridge Magistrate’s Court in Zimbabwe after he was arrested for allegedly smuggling a pistol and 50 rounds of live ammunition into the neighbouring country.

State-owned The Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe reported that Tshililo Mathabi from Thohoyandou, in Limpopo, was arrested on Friday and charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

Mathabi has appeared in court before Magistrate Annia Chimweta, and he was remanded in custody until September 2 for trial. The magistrate postponed the matter awaiting the availability of a ballistic report on the firearm allegedly found on Mathabi.

According to The Herald, the prosecution team led by Pithy Magumula told the court that Mathabi entered Zimbabwe on Friday morning through the busy Beitbridge border post.

Alert police officers noticed a firearm holster, and after a body search, Mathabi was allegedly found with a Berretta pistol, which had an empty magazine.

At least 50 bullets were allegedly found in Mathabi’s belongings when police extensively searched his luggage.

Mathabi was arrested after he could not produce the documentation of the firearm.

The State-owned publication reported that several cases of individuals smuggling firearms via the Limpopo River had been picked, and the law enforcement agencies have intensified the blitz.

In May, joint operations by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Limpopo and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) led to the confiscation of illicit goods worth almost R400 000 and the arrest of 75 undocumented foreign nationals in Limpopo.

At the time, Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said during the anti-crime blitz, conducted mainly by female law enforcement officers, five suspects were also arrested for rape and two for attempted rape.