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Zimbabwe tightens security at SA border

by Staff reporter
29 Nov 2020 at 06:45hrs | Views
Zimbabwe has tightened security along its border with South Africa, where cases of illegal crossings had become rife at the peak of the Covid-19-induced lockdown, which began in March.

Borders will open first to passenger vehicles and pedestrian traffic as from December 1, while further assessments are being undertaken with regard to handling passenger transport.

Strict preventative measures and protocols adopted during the lockdown led to the closure of the country's borders, particularly to human traffic.

Passage was, however, restricted to commercial cargo, returning residents, bodies for burial and diplomats on Government business.

Illegal crossings subsequently rose in the period. More than 710 people were arrested within and around the illegal crossing points for violating immigration laws, according to statistics from the Department of Immigration.

Assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, said an enforcement and compliance operation was presently underway.

Over the past two weeks, 262 border jumpers were intercepted and sent to the National Social Security (NSSA) Hotel in the border town for quarantine.

The hotel is being used by the Government as a transit point, quarantine and isolation centre for Zimbabweans returning from Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa.

Overall, about 40 people are being intercepted daily for violating immigration laws.

Since the start of the lockdown, 11 000 Zimbabweans arriving in the country through Beitbridge Border Post have passed through the NSSA transit point.

"Basically, what we have been trying to do for the past two weeks is to retain and reinforce the integrity and sterility of the border by ensuring that all the relevant flow process protocols are adhered to," said Mr Ncube.

"Our enforcement and compliance team has been on the ground every day, focusing on specific red zones that have been picked and our greatest worry now is the porous points along the Limpopo River.

"For now, we pray for a relief from above, because once it starts raining, most of those illegal crossing points will be closed off. We will continue running those operations."

He exhorted travellers and other agencies to cooperate with immigration compliance teams to enhance order and efficiency.

When the border reopens to passenger traffic on Tuesday, Mr Ncube added, it was important to maintain compliance and order for the safety of border officials and travellers. "We look forward to enforcing more operations to make the border process seamless and free of touts and bogus customs agents who often dupe travellers or cause unnecessary congestion as they go about their activities."

Some of the known illegal crossing points near the main border post include the Spillway (500 metres east) and Dulivhadzimu gorge (3km west).

Among other criminal activities, human and child smuggling is common at Beitbridge Border Post during most peak periods like Easter holidays and the December festive season.

The use of fake customs and immigration stamps by syndicates is also a usual phenomenon during the same period.

Six syndicates were busted by the Department of Immigration in the last 18 months.

Source - sundaymail

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