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How to deal with Mozambique Tourist Traps & Bribes

Mozambique is an un-spoilt tourist region bordering South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the Indian Ocean. Many people drive to Mozambique for a relaxing coastal holiday where they enjoy activities like diving, sailing and fishing. Unfortunately Mozambique has its fair share of corruption. It’s a common affliction in African countries and something to be keenly aware of when visiting them. Read on for some tips on how to prepare yourself in case you encounter a corrupt official.

Africa map with Mozambique  Image by newvoicesforresearch

How they do it
According to IOL, a man from KwaZulu-Natal has told of how he had to leave his wife as guarantee while he went to an ATM to withdraw cash to pay crooked Mozambican border officials. They were forced to pay R4 300 for the release of their unstamped passports. Another couple refused to pay R9 000 after it was discovered that only one of their five passports had been stamped on entering Mozambique. They refused to leave their daughter “hostage” and left their passports behind and crossed into SA without them.

It is unlawful for border officials to charge tourists and then ask to be bribed to reduce these unlawful charges. They refuse to stamp tourists’ passports and then on their return as they leave the country get charged.
KZN manager at the Department of Home Affairs said they needed to investigate the matter. Mozambican Consulate in Durban said all queries had been forwarded to the relevant authorities in Mozambique for consideration and a response would follow as soon as the consulate receives proper instructions on the matter.


Busy Mozambique road with welcome board Images by ronnieborr.com & tripadvisor.com

What you should do
• When you know you're not guilty of anything, talk yourself out of it while treating them with respect. If they persist then ask for proof of the charge and it must be on paper. If it is unreasonable, you may dispute it at the nearest police station.
• If you are charged to pay for anything at all, always request a receipt for the payment thereof.
• Before you depart, make a list of all the necessary documentation you will need. Make sure that your documentation is up to date and valid for the entire period you are traveling for. Always keep your documentation close by when driving. 
• Make copies of all important documents & ensure that they are certified for when officials request to retain your documents; give them the certified copies. As much as it is not a requirement, it is very handy to have an international driving permit.
• You may request to see the station commander or SA embassy.
• Always be patient and friendly. You might be in a hurry, but the officials have all day. They leverage your haste to get money out of you. If you are calm, relaxed and patient then you stand a better chance of not having to pay a bribe or a fine.

Other alerts to look out for when in Mozambique
• Always keep within traffic laws, be aware of one-way streets & ‘no entry’ areas.
• If you drive with glasses on, always carry your doctor's prescription for wearing them.

Sadly poverty, bad socio-economic conditions, greed and poor governance plague a big part of the African continent. This kind of corruption is an indication of a bad system and one should never get angry at the person at the end of the chain. African people are friendly and generous. If met with hostility they react in kind. We can’t solve the global problem of corruption on our own, but by being patient and friendly, we at least minimise its impact and make the world a better place.

We also urge you to be alert when dealing with officials across any border post of any other country and be safe in the roads. If you would like to book a vehicle for your trip, anywhere in Southern Africa, at Drive South Africa we are happy to help.


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