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

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

She says work on the project will be complete within 40 days and will cost R36 million.

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.

In the video belo, SABC News investigation by Journalist Chriselda Lewis & Cameraperson Herbert Memela reveals how smugglers help desperate families cross the border.

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

“This announcement by the Minister of Public Works will go a long way to assist in dealing with the challenges of illegal crossing into the country. It will contribute to assist in monitoring and securing the borders of the country.  I think it’s a step that we should all applaud and I hope it is the beginning in curbing the illegal entry and border jumpers and most importantly the illicit trading.”

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.

“I want the fence to go to the bunks of the river. If the government deploys people who are going to patrol, the thieves cannot steal the fence, but if there is nobody who can patrol it then they will take all that fence out.”

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

The residents are also calling for the government to consider them for job opportunities during the construction of the fence.