BY ARTWELL CHINGWARA SITHOLE
PRIDE Soko (not his real name) aged twenty, dropped out of school at Chinyamukwakwa Secondary and started heading cattle at Marega village.
For three years as a herd boy, Pride had been saving money with the intent to cross to South Africa in search for greener pastures.
He and other eight boys woke up one early morning and started their journey to Checheche Growth Point where they were scheduled to meet an elderly man, a cross-border transporter, whose business is popularly known as Malaicha in vernacular language.
Some Malaichas, in addition to their formal good transporting business from Mzansi, go a step further to traffick people down south.
Undocumented migrants are either made to cross into South Africa aboard cross-border buses from Chipinge or those long distant buses from Chipinge to Beitbridge. The later are then made to cross the crocodile infested Limpopo River.
In Pride’s case, he was fortunate to be alive since his two companions became a meal for the crocodiles. He finally reached his intended destination, one of the farms in Limpopo Province.
After some time while working in South Africa, Pride’s father passed on. Pride could not attend the funeral but only managed to send R2,300 to assist in the funeral expenses.
Seven and half years lapsed while Pride was in South Africa. He finally managed to return home. He had saved enough to pay for a passport. So he went to Harare to apply for the document.
As a person who was not familiar with the city, Pride arrived at Makombe Building in Harare late and found the queue long. A crook sweet-talked him that he would make him jump the queue. In that process, he lost all his money as the guy disappeared with his identity documents and cash. Pride was only helped to return to Checheche by a Good Samaritan.
Pride’s case is just one example of what was happening to many people from communal areas of boarder lying districts in Zimbabwe. Stories of people who fallen prey to thieves in their bid to acquire travelling documents are many.
The coming of e-passport at Chipinge District Civil Registry Department at Chipinge Government Complex is a sigh of relief for many people in Manicaland Province.
In an interview with this reporter, Tarisai Mtisi from Gumira applauded Government’s move to open e-passport office in Chipinge.
“In 2013, I went to Harare to apply for my passport. I used $60 for four trips (going to apply and back and also going to collect and back). The presence of my brother who works in the city saved me from being conned but witnesses some women who had been conned.”
Ms Enia Sithole, a vendor from Gaza Township in Chipinge was the first applicant and she expressed joy in acquiring the travelling document.
“I walked from Gaza Township to Chipinge Government Complex. It took me less than an hour to apply for my e-passport,” she said.
Chipinge Central Member of Parliament, Honourable Raymond Machingura toured the new facility and expressed satisfaction on the work done.
“These offices have brought passport facilities at the doorstep of marginalised communities who used to spend large sums of money to travel long distances to apply for travelling documents,” he said.
For one to acquire a passport, the applicant pays US$120 at CBZ Bank offices located at the same complex and would collect it at the given waiting period.