Foreign nationals crossing into Zimbabwe through the Beitbridge border post and those who are illegally using the porous border fence outside Musina in Limpopo have mixed reactions to the decision to open the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa for ordinary travellers. The border was reopened on the first of December, but only a few people are using the designated points.
A SABC News team went to the border to gauge the situation there. They say things are out of control, as some travellers avoid using the Beitbridge border post and opt for undesignated points to cross into Zimbabwe. Illegal foreign nationals are all over carrying luggage from the N1, through the bush and crossing the porous border fence and the Limpopo river into Zimbabwe.
They are doing this despite the heavy presence of SANDF soldiers.
The majority of the travellers say they can’t afford the 60 US dollars (R912.85) that the Zimbabwean authorities are demanding to get their coronavirus test results. Some say the illegal crossing of the border is a recipe for the spreading of the virus, as many of them are neither sanitising nor wearing masks.
“They (officials) say the border is open. It is not open the border because you say it’s open and now you need 60 US dollars where am I gonna get it,” one traveler told SABC News.
“Me I am not working I am suffering. If it was open we were supposed to walk free you see that is the problem and this sixty US dollar for testing COVID. You see this people are going to the bush neh and they are not tested they are running out of this money of his 60 US dollars. So it’s a problem because everybody is going to the bush they are not tested and it’s a risk for Zimbabwe. A lot who are going there are not getting into the border just because of the money, they must reduce the money so that the people can go through the border they get tested and whatever it is,” added another.
One of the travellers the SABC News crew caught up with was a woman who preferred to remain anonymous, who chose to cross through the regulated border post. She had her coronavirus test taken less than 48 hours before she got to the border, as required in Zimbabwe. Mary Moyo (not her real name) says it is important for people to get tested and use the regulated border gates instead of going through the bush and crossing the Limpopo River.
“I am very happy that the border is open and now I am going home. I can come to Musina to do my shopping. I feel happy that the business is not going to be normal. The COVID letter I have it. It just took me some minutes to have this letter. It might sound like its expensive but if you are serious of what you are doing is not expensive,” she says.
Police and traffic officials often conduct roadblock on the N1. Attempts to get comment from Home Affairs officials failed.
Below is Africa’s latest COVID-19 stats:
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