More Zimbabwean nationals have crossed the border into South Africa since the beginning of the year. This is compared to the numbers recorded during the same period in previous years. Over 46 000 Zimbabwean nationals have crossed the Beitbridge border into South Africa since the new year.
According to the Border Management Authority (BMA), the number is high compared to previous years.
Speaking to Sunday World on Thursday, BMA commissioner Dr Mike Masiapato said they are expecting the numbers to skyrocket over the weekend ahead of the reopening of schools. According to reports, thousands of Zimbabwean children attend school in South Africa.
“We have been hard at work, facilitating the movement of persons across the port of entry, the Beitbridge. We are on the second leg of our execution of the plan, which is the return leg. On Monday we facilitated 10 000 [people], Tuesday 16 000 and 21 000 on Wednesday,” said Masiapato.
Hundreds sent back for lack of documentation
He revealed that they had to send back 400 people who were coming into the country without the requisite documents.
“We have intercepted approximately 400 people in the past three days. All of those people were denied entry into the country and were returned back to Zimbabwe. Around the port itself there are some openings where people are able to walk through, that is why the team is hard at work,” said Masiapato.
Commenting on the recent arrests of Zimbabwean nationals who are accused of kidnapping minors, Masiapato said his team is strict on people who travel with minors.
Zero-tolerance on minor children with no papers
“When we did an operation on December 2 until the next day. We were able to intercept around 42 buses and found 443 children. [These children] were transported into the country without parents or guardians, let alone any documentations. So we are strict as far as that is concerned.
“We continue to do further interception as there are some people who either want to leave the country or come in the republic with minors who have no documentation.”
He shared that they went to the two sides of the port, the western and eastern side of Beitbridge. This is on the border line, to see the SANDF members who are deployed on the border.
“The intention was to be able to see the activities and the deployment of the members of the SANDF and the border guards. To also give the support as we continue to intercept individuals who try to enter the country illegally,” he concluded.