Beitbridge Bureau — AN MDC-T activist escaped jail with a wholly suspended one-year term of imprisonment after he was convicted of trying to cross into South Africa using another person's passport. Wellington Makumbinde, a member of the MDC-T party's youth committee for mobilisation, is resident in South Africa.
He was intercepted at Beitbridge Border Post by alert police detectives from the Border Control Unit last week on Tuesday.
Makumbinde (29) was using a passport belonging to Brian Tazviwana. He illegally entered the country on February 1.
Makumbinde is also the programmes co-ordinator for the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, and doubles as the governance programme officer for Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA) in Cape Town.
Makumbinde was convicted on his own plea of guilt of contravening a section of the Immigration Act when he appeared before Beitbridge resident magistrate Miss Gloria Takundwa, who sentenced him to a one-year jail term, which was wholly suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
Asked why he was using somebody's passport, Makumbinde said he had used Tazviwona's passport because his had expired.
The passport in question was forfeited to the State as part of the sentence.
The agreed facts are that on February 5, Makumbinde arrived in Beitbridge en-route to South Africa.
He went to Beitbridge border post intending to exit the country to South Africa.
Along the way he was stopped by some detectives from the Border Control Unit who were on patrol.
They requested him to produce his travel documents and he in turn produced Tazviwona's passport, leading to his arrest.
Of late there has been an increase of people trying to leave or enter the country using stolen passports, which has prompted the authorities to intensify patrols at the Border Post.