Additional soldiers and resources have been deployed to patrol the R37 million Beitbridge border fence with Zimbabwe which is still under construction in Limpopo. The 40 kilometre fence was vandalised over the weekend. Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille requested her Defence and Home Affairs counterparts to reinforce security against vandalism and theft.
Last month Minister De Lille announced that the erection of the fence had started. Three weeks after the announcement, parts of the fence have been vandalized and stolen, leaving empty spaces in the fence. Illegal immigrants continue to enter from Zimbabwe as before.
De Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson says the Departments of Home Affairs and Defence must ensure that security along the border is reinforced.
“The responsibility of securing the country’s border is with the Department of Defence and Home Affairs, so the Department of Public Works’ contractor has been inundated with incidents of theft and vandalism and the constructor has employed additional security. However, Minister De Lille has written to the Minister of Defence on the 4th of April to request the deployment of SANDF staff to secure the border and that has been done.”
SANDF spokesperson, Captain Jaco Theunissen, says police are also assisting in safeguarding the border fence.
” The SANDF wants to acknowledge that we are aware of the fact that a new border fence they are busy erecting closer to the Beitbridge has been vandalised and that is creating gaps in the illegal border activities. We have now increased patrols in that area utilising various of our forces efforts that we have, such as horses and motorcycles.”
Spokesperson of the Musina Development Community Committee, Joseph Mwanza says the fence is of low quality, and local residents were overlooked for job opportunities.
” Our concern as Musina Development Committee is the standard of the fence. The other issue is that we are not benefiting as the community. As you can see this fence here is the old old material they used, so we are asking ourselves where is the money they were supposed to buy material for the new fence.”
In the video below the construction of the fence continues during lockdown:
Construction workers on site are worried that they lack protective clothing such as masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The workers are also not observing social distancing.
Below is an infographic explaining how people should wear masks:
Minister De Lille is investigating all allegations regarding the construction of the fence and will issue a statement on Friday.
Foreign nationals arrested for entering the country illegally
Meanwhile, forty-nine foreign nationals have been arrested at Polokwane in Limpopo for allegedly contravening the Immigration Act. The Hawks in the province say the group entered the country illegally after being driven in a vehicle into South Africa by a man who has also been arrested.
The Hawks say the foreign nationals were discovered inside a panel van at a house in Polokwane. Health officials were on the scene assessing the situation after several lockdown regulations were not adhered to.
Hawks provincial spokesperson, Matimba Maluleke, says they are also investigating possible human trafficking.
“We have arrested 49 foreign nationals for being in the country illegally. We were investigating other unrelated cases when we discovered a panel van full of foreign nationals parked in one of the houses in Polokwane. The driver will also be charged for also helping foreign nationals to be in the country without proper documentation. They contravened the Immigration Act, however the possibility of human trafficking cannot be ruled out hence the investigation is still continuing.”