Zimbabwe faults South Africa over border point pile up

Members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) hold banners as they demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe at Beit Bridge border crossing in this July 5, 2008 file photo. A Zimbabwe minister has criticised South Africa for delays at the border point. 

A Zimbabwean minister has accused South African immigration authorities of being ‘unneighbourly’ following unprecedented congestion at the Beitbridge border post.

Travellers are reportedly spending up to three days at the border post between the two countries because of delays by immigration authorities from the two countries who struggling to clear South Africans returning from the holidays in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s co-Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi on Monday said he was due to meet his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor to avert a potential disaster at Southern Africa’s busiest inland port.

"We are going to engage the new South African minister over the chaotic situation at Beitbridge Border Post,” Mr Mohadi told the state owned Herald newspaper.

"The deplorable situation there is purely an administrative issue which I believe is not South Africa’s government policy.

"We have a situation where some pedestrian have been tear-gassed or watered by police on that country’s border and told go back to Zimbabwe."

An estimated 25, 000 people have been crossing the border everyday during the festive season up from an average 9,000.

'Criminals taking advantage'

Queues at the border reportedly stretch for more than 10 kilometres on roads leading to Zimbabwean cities of Bulawayo and Harare.

“What is also worrying is that they are inconveniencing other travellers who are passing South Africa in transit and have planes to catch,” Mr Mohadi said.

“You will note that these cars have been cleared in Zimbabwe in a few hours and are only waiting to gain access to South Africa.

“Furthermore, most of them are South African passport holders and we don’t know why they are treating their fellow countrymen this way.

“At the moment, these cars have virtually closed one lane of both highways leading to Harare and Bulawayo.

“Such a scenario will cause unnecessary accidents as other motorists have to share the other lane.

“As Zimbabwe, we can’t let the situation go unaddressed, we hope a solution will be arrived soon.”

The minister said criminals were taking advantage of the confusion at the border to rob travellers of their money.

“You will note that some criminals and wheeler dealers have taken advantage of the situation where they are duping motorists and the travelling public under the guise they will facilitate speedy movement,” Mr Mohadi said.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans have migrated to South Africa over the past decade and most of them take advantage of the holidays to visit their relatives back home.

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