We have just returned from a road trip through Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. I just want to post a warning to other travellers who might be driving through the Kariba Border Post (on the Zimbabwe side), that we were denied entry because we didn't have a vehicle clearance certificate issued by the South African police for our vehicle.
We had researched the requirements for entry by using the information supplied the Automobile Association in Johannesburg. This stated that we MAY require a vehicle clearance certificate if entering Zimbabwe through the Chirundu Border Post, but mentioned nothing about Kariba.
We had already entered Zimbabwe from Botswana at the Kazangula border post earlier in our trip and had experienced no problems there. We decided to drive through Zambia from Victoria Falls to Kariba in one day and so we arrived hot and tired at Kariba at about 5.15pm.
We were informed by immigration that we required a vehicle clearance certificate to enter Zimbabwe and that we should speak to the "Interpol" agent outside. This person, who introduced himself as Det Sgt Pardon (unfortunately we didn't get the surname) led us to a wooden shack behind the immigration offices and informed us that it was mandatory for us to have this vehicle clearance certificate. Failaure to produce one would mean no entry into Zimbabwe. We asked him what we could do about it because we really needed to get to Kariba and board the houseboat for our trip on the Lake. He then made it quite clear that entry would be permitted if we paid him some money. We refused to do this and went back to the immigration officials and informed them that Det Sgt Pardon was eliciting bribes from us and we were not prepared to pay him. They said they could do nothing until we had a stamped authorisation from "Interpol". We asked to see someone in authority, but were told nobody was available. As it was now dark, my husband decided to speak to Det Sgt Pardon again. He requested a payment of USD 150 be paid to himself and in return we would get the necessary entry stamp. Eventually, Det Sgt Padon accepted USD 50 and we got the necessary piece of paper! This entire fiasco was a blatant exercise in extortion. It left a very bitter taste in our mouths and spoiled an otherwise perfect trip. It is totally unacceptable that an 'official' such as Det Sgt Pardon is being allowed to conduct his own 'bribery' business - preying on much needed tourists to Zimbabwe - whilst operating under the guise of being an Interpol official.
I have sent a letter of complaint to Zimbabwe Tourism in Harare, but haven't received a response, so decided to post this to warn would-be tourists travelling by road to be prepared with ALL the paperwork they MIGHT need, so that this type of bribery can be eliminated.