Friday, 30 March 2018

CHAOS AT BEITBRIDGE AS SA IMMIGRATION OFFICERS ON GO SLOW

Chaos is reigning supreme at the Beitbridge Border Post on the South African side where travellers are spending hours in winding queues for clearance.

The situation has been building up over the past three days as thousands of people began travelling between the two countries for the Easter holidays.

Some travellers are now opting to use other ports of entry into South Africa during peak periods to avoid delays and congestion, which have become perennial.

Investigations by the Chronicle reveal that people are spending between three and eight hours to enter or leave South Africa, with others reportedly aborting their journeys.

The travellers are accusing the South African immigration officials of staging a go-slow as resistance to the deployment of more anti-corruption officers at the border.

Ironically, the same people are spending less than 30 minutes on the Zimbabwean side for similar processes. This includes those leaving or entering the country.
There are 10 computer units on the Zimbabwean side of the border for processing both arrivals and departures while South Africa has over 46 for the same purpose.

Long static winding queues have become a common feature on the arrivals and departure sides of the South African border.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Mr Malusi Gigaba said on Wednesday that more staff including security officers had been deployed to many ports of entry, including Beitbridge to curb illegal migration and smuggling.

“The deployment of intelligence members and Department of Home Affairs Inspectorate at major ports of entry has exposed a lot of illegal activities.

“They discovered 29 fraudulently obtained (South African) passports, seven birth certificates, two identity documents, 13 passports (Lesotho) and three fake immigration stamps from a Zimbabwean at Beitbridge he was using to facilitate illegal movement of travellers across the border,” he said.
Travellers who spoke to The Chronicle yesterday called on the South African government to urgently attend to the situation at Beitbridge.

“Imagine I spent eight hours here just to get clearance out of South Africa, a process which takes less than 10 minutes on the Zimbabwe side, ”said Ms Nomagugu Mlotshwa.
“It appears the immigration officers here are demonstrating quietly against the deployment of more security officers to monitor their activities.

“When we arrived at the border there were only four officers clearing both arrivals and departures – that is two were dealing with arrivals while the others handled departures”.

Another traveller, Mr Chamunorwa Moyo blamed the South Africans for taking a business as usual approach in light of an increase in both human and vehicular traffic.

“It was disheartening to see women struggling to manage restless and anxious children. We were exposed to the sun for the better part of the time we spent at that border.

“I am happy that the Zimbabwean border authorities seem to be more organised this time around. It took us just 20 minutes to complete all the border formalities,” said Mr Moyo.

South Africa’s department of Home Affairs spokesperson, Mr Mayihlome Tshwete had not responded to written questions by the end of the day yesterday.

A border official who preferred anonymity said some wheeler dealers had besieged the South African component of the border where they are charging desperate travellers between R100 and R200 to facilitate their jumping the queues.

A total of 15 000 people (inclusive of arrivals and departures) use the border post daily and the number increases to 35 000 during peak periods. Chronicle

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