The department of Home Affairs says the Beitbridge port of entry, outside Musina, in Limpopo, has seen 18 000 travelers on Thursday alone.
This as the department has doubled the number of immigration officials in anticipation that more Zimbabweans might go home in large numbers this festive season, given the recent political changes in Harare. Other sister departments such as SARS have also increased custom officials and service points.
Travelers en route to various destinations for the Christmas holidays have started to hit the road early especially those going to Zimbabwe through the N1 and the Beitbridge border post.
Heavily loaded vehicles some towing trailers could be seen and some have broken down by the side of the N1. Some holidaymakers say they decided to hit the road early to avoid traffic congestion next week and towards the Christmas day.
Home Affairs spokesperson at the border Stephen Van Neel says other sister departments such as SARS have also increased custom officials and service points.
“We at Beitbridge, we have special plan this year, because we are taking into account the bi-matrix we have rolled out at the port and also a possibility that we might get more Zimbabweans traveling back because of the situation that has changed now in Zimbabwe .
“It is for that reason that we have increased our capacity in terms of additional immigration officials that we have brought to the port,” Van Neel explained.
Meanwhile Van Neel is optimistic that additional services points and personnel are enough to deal with any number of travelers at the border. He says the six-week operation ends on the 16th of January 2018.
“I can confirm that in the last 24 hours we have seen a little bit of an increase of movement we had yesterday closed to 18 thousand and that is little bit more of what we normally get 13 to 14 thousand on a normal Thursdays. So we expect that it will increase over the weekend and then next week also.”
Around the border line soldiers could be seen patrolling the porous fence. The fence is riddled with holes making it easy for illegal jumpers to cross between the two countries. Police are often intercepting vehicles stolen in South Africa being smuggled in to Zimbabwe through the Limpopo river.