The Sunday Mail
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
THE movement of human and vehicular traffic at Beitbridge Border Post has improved after authorities from Zimbabwe and South Africa addressed bottlenecks that had resulted in people spending long hours to cross the border in the last few weeks.
Police from the two countries have intensified patrols along the border, with the South African Police Service deploying a helicopter.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has arrested 275 people in the past few days for trying to cross the border without valid travel documents.
“Of the 275 arrested people, 23 were minors and have since been taken to Social Welfare and the identification of their parents is underway,” said police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi in a statement yesterday.
SA’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi yesterday told journalists that his country was cracking down on those who attempt to cross into Musina with fake Covid-19 certificates.
“We are not going to entertain those who use fraudulent documents. Our immigration officers are going to refuse them entry as undesirable immigrants,” he said.
SA is also adding more workers to complement efforts by the security services to prevent illegal border crossings along the Limpopo River.
“We are deploying an additional 60 immigration officials to work with the National Defence Forces in curbing issues of border jumping along our borders.
“A helicopter is being dispatched to aid patrols along our border with Zimbabwe,” said Dr Motsoaledi.
Very short queues of southbound light motor vehicles could be seen on the Zimbabwean side of the border yesterday afternoon.
Traffic has also been separated into light, heavy vehicles and buses to allow for smooth movement.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Consulate in SA has adjusted its working hours after the neighbouring country moved its Covid-19 lockdown restrictions from Alert Level One to Alert Level Three.
In a public notice last week, Consul-General Ms Melody Chaurura said the consulate had reduced the number of clients to be assisted per day from 600 to 300.
“All consulate appointments scheduled for the period stretching from Monday January 4 to Friday March 26, 2021 have been summated with immediate effect.
“All the clients who had confirmed bookings within the stated period will receive individual emails via the email address used to book the original appointment, communicating the new appointment dates as the situation permits.”
Consul-General Chaurura said in order to extend services to already signed-up clients, the booking platform had been temporarily closed for new bookings.
She advised clients seeking other services such as Temporary Travel Documents (TTD), cancellation of passports and authentication of documents that they do not require prior booking.
“This category is welcome to visit the consulate between 9am and 11.30am during weekdays for assistance,” she said.
Clearances for the repatriation of human remains for burial in Zimbabwe will continue to be strictly processed via the existing electronic platforms.
She emphasised that the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria and the two consulates – Consulate of Zimbabwe in Johannesburg and Consulate of Zimbabwe in Cape Town – do not have agents in South Africa who act on their behalf.
Communication with the consulates on all matters of mutual interest, including all general enquiries, is also conducted via online platforms.