File photo: Reuters

Durban - Natalie Tenzer-Silva, who runs Dana Tours in Mozambique, said the allegations of bribery and extortion at border posts was having a negative effect on tourism. The South African who has lived in Mozambique for more than 20 years said it made it harder to market the country as a tourist destination.

Pauline Young of Winston Park said bribery would be a tragedy for the Mozambican people who benefit from the tourism industry.

“I have travelled the world, but have never experienced anything like this. To be confronted with such aggression by officers with AK-47s, anyone would be scared into paying,” she said.

It would also seem that the scam was not limited to passports. “On our way in, on February 14, an officer shot out in front of each of our cars, terrorising us about the ownership of the trailers,” said Young.

The officer pointed at her purse. “After he took R400 for the first car, he wanted money for the other car. He snatched another R200 from my husband’s hand and stormed off.”

Not completing a form for their two vehicles cost Shawn Meaker and his friends R5 700. Meaker was fined R2 850 per vehicle in April for not having the registration forms.

“We were not given or shown that form when we went in,” he said. Meaker, of Durban North, had gone to the Tembe Elephant Park for the day and was returning to join his wife and friends in Ponta Malongane when he was stopped at the border and fined.

“I asked to see the regulations showing that what I did was wrong and what amount the fine should be,” he said. Instead, he was told to leave his 6-year-old and 10-year-old sons at the border while he went to draw the money.

“There was no way I was leaving my kids there,” Meaker said: “I would never go back there again. All the South African (border official) said was that it happens to everyone and it’s how things are done.”

Tenzer-Silva suggested that people wishing to visit Mozambique should go to – which lists Mozambique border crossing procedures.

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