8 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Beitbridge Chaos - SA Takes Action

Photo: Dylan Thomas / UKaid / Department for International Development
Barbed fencing lines the South Africa - Zimbabwe border.

Beitbridge Bureau — SOUTH AFRICA will immediately deploy more immigration officers at Beitbridge Border Post and open more clearance points to arrest the volatile situation at the country's busiest port of entry, a senior Government official has said.

This follows the intervention by Zimbabwe's Government through Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi.

Minister Mohadi yesterday said they had agreed with his South African counterpart Mrs Naledi Pandor to end the chaos at the border post.

"We had a discussion this morning with Minister Pandor over the terrible situation at Beitbridge. She indicated that they will immediately deploy more immigration officers to the border and open up more clearing points at their side of the border.

"She said they had not anticipated the volume of traffic to increase judging from the previous experience.

"She said they had challenges with office space, but will open up more clearing points outside offices to speed up the movement of human traffic and cargo."

Human and vehicular traffic increased last week as Zimbabweans based in South Africa and other holidaymakers trooped back to that country.

"We are very hopeful that things will improve for the better as the minister has assured us that they would come up with a long term solution to the problems hindering the flow of traffic at Beitbridge" he said.

Meanwhile, The Herald news crew covering the chaos at the border post was yesterday detained by South African police for three hours at the instigation of Mr Michael Malindi, the Co-ordinator of the Border Control Operation Co-ordinating Committee.

He accused the crew of peddling falsehoods about the situation on the ground.

However, the crew was released after being questioned by detectives from that country.

Crossing into South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post has become a nightmare.

Some motorists have reportedly spent between two to three days in queues.

Queues for cars, mainly South African registered ones, stretched for over 10 kilometres outside the border post on roads leading to Harare and Bulawayo.

These had since been cleared by Zimbabwe officials, but were awaiting departure to South Africa.

The Department of Immigration had to seek assistance from the police to control restless travellers.

By end of the day yesterday, South African immigration officers had improved on their efficiency though long-winding queues were still a common feature at the border.

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