Beitbridge, South Africa — In response to the massive influx of Zimbabweans returning to South Africa after the festive season, stringent measures have been implemented at the Beitbridge border post. The Border Management Authority (BMA) is focusing on ensuring all entrants have proper documentation, with a reported 40,000 people having entered South Africa by Thursday and numbers expected to rise.
BMA Commissioner Mike Masiapato emphasized the importance of correct documentation for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. “Our aim is to prevent the entry of undocumented individuals, as they are often linked to criminal activities,” Masiapato said. In addition to standard checks, strategic deployments of border guards and members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been made along the border.
During the festive season, over 400,000 individuals were processed leaving South Africa for Zimbabwe. Masiapato highlighted the focus on intercepting illicit cigarette smuggling and the increased deployment of officials at Beitbridge due to a rise in attempts to enter South Africa illegally.
Beitbridge, along with Lebombo and Maseru border posts, are experiencing significant congestion. The BMA has conducted operations with key roadblocks near Beitbridge to curb illegal crossings. “Our deployments are aligned with our operational plan to ensure border security,” Masiapato added.
The Patriotic Alliance (PA), led by Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene, has actively participated in preventing illegal crossings. PA members were seen in social media videos turning back individuals attempting to use the Limpopo River as an entry point. McKenzie expressed pride in PA members for their efforts during the holiday season.
Deputy President of PA, Kenny Kunene, called for tighter border management, citing the need for more soldiers to secure the borders. Nicholas Mabhena from Africa Diaspora Forum emphasized the necessity of carrying all relevant documentation at the border, including old passports for those on Zimbabwe exemption permits.
Meanwhile, the national transport department, represented by spokesperson Collen Msibi, expressed concerns over festive season driver behavior leading to road accidents. Msibi stressed the importance of adhering to road rules and taking regular breaks to combat fatigue. The department awaits the release of overall statistics by Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga later this month.
This development at Beitbridge signals a concerted effort by South African authorities to maintain border integrity while managing the seasonal movement of people between Zimbabwe and South Africa.