Beitbridge chaos subsides as thousands of Zim residents re-enter SA

Drivers coming into South Africa from Zimbabwe queue for up to five days as they await Covid testing before being allowed into the country.
Image: Alex Patrick

The brown-veined white butterfly migration across the country coincides with the annual migration of cross-border immigrants into SA.

At Beitbridge, in Limpopo, the floating white wings intermingle with thousands of people coming back into the country from neighbouring Zimbabwe. But this year is unlike any other.

The people are still returning, and with them also the deadly coronavirus — which is making a big comeback after the holidays.

Images from the border showed thousands of people making their way into the country, hundreds of them sleeping on roads on the border.

But days after home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi visited the Beitbridge border on Monday, the throngs of people streaming into the country have subsided.

Not only are these migrants coming to seek out a better life for themselves, but many are running from a lockdown after Zimbabwe’s acting president, Kembo Mohadiountry, announced new Covid restrictions.

Cars and people travelling from Zimbabwe into South Africa at the Beitbridge border queue to have their Covid tests before being allowed entry into the country.
Image: Alex Patrick

The situation at the border is still considered tense.

The congestion was on account of the Covid tests which are performed on every person entering the country. The tests take 15 minutes to produce a result.

On Thursday, Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba said they had noted that at least 104 people had tested positive for the virus at the border in the past four days.

These people had been interacting with thousands of other migrants who waited for up to five days to cross over the Limpopo River into SA.

Despite being tested in Zimbabwe each person entering the country needs to retest for the virus after 18 cases of fake negative Covid-19 test results had been discovered by authorities.

Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba told TimesLIVE that there were syndicates illegally selling negative Covid-19 results to those wanting to enter the country.

Three wire fences – including the new controversial R37m 40km fence – are erected along the border to keep desperate Zimbabweans from illegally entering SA.
Image: Alex Patrick

The Limpopo health department has now called on all people who have entered SA through the border to self-quarantine before interacting with other people once they reach their destinations.

“With thousands of people stuck for days while waiting for their entry into the country to be processed, the department is worried that the events at the border are fast becoming a superspreader [of the virus],” Ramathuba said.

“Considering the incubation period of the virus, we wish to implore those who will be crossing from Beitbridge to do the right thing and self-quarantine because they have been exposed to a potential superspreader.”

by Alex Patrick

Leave a Reply