The illegal movement of undocumented foreign nationals known as ‘border jumpers’ is worsening around the Beitbridge Border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. This comes amid a crackdown by Harare on dissidents.

Hundreds of people cross illegally into South Africa daily to get to Musina and elsewhere.

Police and soldiers are seemingly unable to control them as they make their way through the recently constructed R37 million border fence.

Soldiers tried to stop the SABC News crew from reporting about activities of illegal movement of people along the border fence. Hundreds of undocumented Zimbabwean nationals cross the border into South Africa daily.

They illegally jump the borderline fence, walk through the bush to the N1 to get transport to Musina town and elsewhere. Later on in the afternoon, they walk back carrying goods including groceries, using the same route back into Zimbabwe.

They do that during the day under the watchful eye of the police and soldiers who cannot control the influx. The undocumented foreign nationals say they cross the border illegally as the economic situation back home is bad.

 

Situation difficult in Zimbabwe 

A Zimbabwean national whom the SABC crew met in the bush says things are difficult.

“As people, it is tough for us to survive because at home we are hungry. If things were better we would not be here. We don’t want to interfere with the police when they chase us because they are right. In other words, they are protecting us from the criminals in the jungle. The main point is that things at home are tough,” he says.

The Zimbabwean nationals – who are illegally crossing along the Beitbridge borderline into the country to buy food have thanked the soldiers and police patrolling the borderline for not stopping them. They say that law enforcement officers allow them free passage.

“The SAPS … we don’t have problems with them, but the main problem is our Zimbabwean soldiers and police. They are demanding large amounts for us to come to South Africa.”

The Health and Social Development departments say that the high number of people flocking into the small border town of Musina is putting a strain on government services. Some women and children from Zimbabwe are often seen wandering in the streets begging for food and money.

Social Development Spokesperson Witness Tiva says 41 unaccompanied minors were picked up in the streets and are being kept at a private place of safety in Musina.

“We also work with the Department of Home Affairs for further processing of unaccompanied minors, upon identification of unaccompanied minors the referral is sent to social workers for assessment and temporary placement. The number of children placed at the shelter is 41,” says Tiva.

The police’s Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo says alcohol and illicit cigarettes worth millions of rands have been confiscated in the area since the start of the lockdown.