The fence that is separating South Africa and Zimbabwe has now been increased by another 40 kilometres at and the extension cost R37 million so far.
Many people continue to cross the border at Beit Bridge between South Africa and Zimbabwe even though a fence of 40 kilometre stretch was erected.As for now the fence has cost R37 million and is hoped that it will manage to stop criminals and Zimbabweans from coming to South Africa.
Smugglers are traveling on foot and using donkey carts brace to cross the Limpopo River which is full of crocodiles inorder to illegally take goods across the border. Some of the smugglers are as young as 12-years-old. They conduct their business from an informal settlement, near the river banks.
They cross the river on a daily basis with the help of a smuggling syndicate that will help them to take their goods across the river. This is happening even though the number of soldiers patrolling the Beit bridge border line have been increased. One of smugglers said they also assist people who want to cross into South Africa to buy food and to look for jobs.
“lf it’s soap we charge per box , we carry across the river. I share the money with the owner of the donkey cart.Our family survive from doing this. If I don’t come here and do this, my family will not have anything to eat. This is better compared to stealing, we put food on the table for our family through this business.”
“We help border jumpers to transport goods across the river and get paid little money which we use to feed our families because the living condition this side are really bad. The soldiers orders us to follow the law but some of them feel sorry for us and permits us to go and buy food. We are not stealing, we just go there to buy food,” says a mother of four, who has been helping illegal immigrants for 10 years.
In the video below, authorities say the situation at the border requires urgent attention:
Police spokesperson, Vishnu Naidoo, says they have spoken to their Zimbabwean counterparts about the activities going on on the boarder.
“During their combined operations they discovered people trying to cross the river, from Zimbabwe coming into South Africa. Because of this, seven people were apprehended. At the moment they are in police custody. We are busy processing them. They were others who managed to escapeback into Zimbabwe and the authorities in Zimbabwe have been notified,” said Naidoo.
Among the people who are staying at that informal settlement are South Africans. Head of the Vhembe District COVID-19 Command Council Executive Mayor, Dowelani Nenguda, who was part of the combined operations, is concerned about the situation.
“We arrived at this informal settlement using the river and at this is where the illegal activities are taking place. Zimbabweans are also staying here We found six people hidding at the back of the bakkie, the driver and the people he was carrying have since been arrested. We witnessed over hundred people across the river preparing to come this side. They are all smuggling goods between the two countries. Our main concern is the damage being done on the borderline fence but surprisingly soldiers are around in large numbers,” says Nenguda.
Authorities are concerned that people could be spreading the COVID-19 as they travel between the two countries unlawt. The number of COVID-19 infections has increased to 9 420 with 186 death in the country. Zimbabwe has 34 COVID-19 infections and four deaths.