Following reports on Monday that commuters leaving the country at the Beitbridge Border Post between South Africa and Zimbabwe in Limpopo, have been delayed for over 12 hours due to large volumes of people leaving the country for the festive season the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba visited the border to find out why there have been massive delays.
Beitbridge is the second busiest port of entry, following OR Tambo International Airport, into South Africa with over 19 000 people crossing through daily. Gigaba admitted that the border post "has serious physical and systems infrastructure shortages as well as personnel". The Minister promised that it is an issue that his department really needs to pay attention to over the next [few] years.
There has been work that has been done over the last two years to improve the situation at Beitbridge, which was meant to try reconfigure how the border post is working. It has streamlined the flow of people and the flow of motor vehicles, we've created a dedicated line for pedestrians, light motor vehicles as well as for heavy motor vehicles such as trucks and vehicles ... but clearly we need a more sustainable solution, the solution we have at the moment is not working.— Minister of Home Affairs, Minister Malusi Gigaba
People lining up at the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Picture: Nastasya Tay/EWN.
The Department of Home Affairs is expecting more than 245 000 people to apply for Zimbabwe Dispensation Permits, speaking to 702 Gigaba said that he is very happy with the number of applications that have come in so far and his message to people who are on the dispensation was "do not panic".
He stated that Zimbabweans who are holders of the permit should be able to go home, and return to South Africa next year without fear of being penalised or being declared 'undesirable'.
Minister Gigaba explained the contingency plan that has been put in place at the border post following his visit on Monday:
We have increased the working hours to 24 hours, but secondly we have increased our personnel from 35 to 80 for the festive season in order to deal with the high traffic flows and the volumes of people. So we think for the festive season we are going to do relatively well. But there is a more sustainable solution required at that border post because the present one is not working very well.— Minister of Home Affairs, Minister Malusi Gigaba