Public Works to brief Scopa on Beitbridge border fence construction

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The Public Works Department will on Tuesday brief the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on developments in investigations relating to the procurement and construction of the Beitbridge border fence. 

Parliamentary committees that conducted on onsite inspection of the fence last year concluded that it was not fit for purpose and was therefore deemed as wasteful expenditure.  

They added that a 37-year-old fence that was decommissioned in 1994 is still in a better physical condition compared to the newly built one. 

About 14 officials of the department were implicated in wrongdoing related to the procurement of the fence.  

The multi-million rand border fence was built early last year as an emergency measure to curb the movement of people between South Africa and Zimbabwe when all ports of entries were closed during lockdown.  

However, it was riddled with allegations of corruption and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was roped in to investigate.

Construction of fence between SA and Zimbabwe welcomed 

Last year, Minister of Public Works, Patricia De Lille, announced the construction of a 40-kilometre border fence outside the Beitbridge Border Post in Musina. 

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and residents in villages near the border with Zimbabwe welcomed plans to rebuild the border fence. 

Residents at villages in Niani, outside Musina, in Limpopo have been complaining about lack of border fence between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Undocumented foreigners cross over between the two countries daily. 

Part of the fence was swept away by the floods in 2000, while some parts were vandalised and stolen. 

SANDF Head of Communications, Siphiwe Dlamini, said the new fence will help curb the smuggling of illicit goods and illegal immigration. 

Spokesperson of Ha-Gumbu community, Mahwasane Mudzweda, urges the SANDF to effectively patrol along the border, to ensure that the new fence is not vandalised. 

Mudzweda added that the new fence would also help to prevent the destruction of their crops and properties by elephants that cross to the villages from Zimbabwe. 

In the video below, an SABC News investigation by journalist Chriselda Lewis and cameraperson Herbert Memela reveals how smugglers help desperate families cross the border: 

Concerns over humanitarian crisis  during festive travel

In December last year, traffic congestion at the Beitbridge Border Post was at an alarming rate, with reports of at least seven people having died while waiting to cross over.  

This as thousands of travellers made their way out of South Africa to other Southern African countries for the festive season period.

Frustrated truck drivers complained about having to wait several days in snaking queues.  

In the video below, reports of several deaths at the border post in December:

-Additional reporting by SABC News