Street vendors and taxi operators around the Beitbridge border post, outside Musina in Limpopo, have joined calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to open borders under Alert Level 1 of the lockdown. They say business has been adversely affected since the introduction of the nationwide lockdown five month ago.
There are long queues of trucks waiting to go through the border gate into Zimbabwe.
Illegal movement of people going back into Zimbabwe through the bush continues despite the deployment of the army.
Border jumping continues at Beitbridge border post:
Those who cross the border illegally carry groceries and other essentials on a daily basis. The women who sell food outside the border entrance, say they are struggling to make a living.
“It will help sometimes just because people are suffering and the kids are starving. We just want the border to open so we want it to open so that anyone can move and the business to go up,” says one of the women working at the border post.
Curbing the spread of COVID-19
Meter taxi operator, Donald Ramuthivheli, believes the opening of the border will help to stop the illegal border jumping, which continues at an alarming rate. Ramuthivheli also says opening of the border will also help to stop the spread of the coronavirus as travellers will be screened and sanitized at the border post.
“Let the president open the border because, even now when it is closed, thousands of people are jumping the border illegally and enter the country and they are not screened for coronavirus. If it is open, they will be able to be screened. Us as taxi operators will also be able to work because we are not working properly; some are unable to service the installments,” says one of the drivers.
Some truck drivers have also joined calls for the government to open borders. Many Zimbabweans in South Africa hire trucks to take their groceries across the border to families and others in need.
Under Alert Level 2 of the lockdown, only commercial trucks are allowed to go through the border.
“They have got so many trucks to attend to so they are taking one, one, one or two, two and there is a long delay, of which I was supposed to be somewhere Maswingo or somewhere up there. To a certain extent, the opening of the border will help because they are suffering; they can’t take food across the border, but to those who are transporting the goods from SA to Zimbabwe, obviously, their businesses are going to go down. But for us, it was helping because we were making money out of it.”
It’s anticipated that under Alert Level 1 to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa both land, air or aviation and coastal points of entries will be opened under some restrictions of course.