Wobbly fences make crimes easyComment on this story
There is grass growing in the middle and either side of the rutted, winding trail next to the shoulder-length fence that separates South Africa and Botswana.
The stony, rudimentary track – marking a patrol route flanking the border – shows definite signs of neglect, with some of the grass growing on the side of the trail.
Cattle, donkeys and goats grazing freely on either side of the fence enjoyed the free movement, often slipping through the wobbly fences into either country.
As the traveller edges closer to the Makgobistad border entry point into Botswana, the signs of neglect become pronounced, with holes all along the derelict, wobbly fence.
The locals here, west of Mafikeng in North West, tell stories of stolen cars wending their way into Botswana from South Africa as well as similar illegal movements by people.
Stock theft is another sore point.
About 75km from Mafikeng, Logagane village is next to Dikhukhung village in Botswana.
A local chief in Logagane, Peter Sekwenyane, expressed concern to a team from The Star over cross-border stock theft: “Stock theft is rife and my worry is that if boundary fences are not patrolled and fortified to deter this, then the country might as well stop talking about controlling diseases carried by animals.
“People are also illegally jumping fences because the legal entry point is very far and a tollgate charge of 120 pula (R130) payable by motorists entering Botswana is also too expensive.
“Both Botswana and South Africa need to sit down and seriously find a way to amicably solve our problems.”
Meanwhile, in Makgobistad, Chief Sandylands Motseoakhumo said that apart from stock theft, there had been other serious crimes including illegal goods and stolen vehicles crossing the border, via the fences.
“There’s a lot of criminal activities happening which police and (the) authorities will only notice or become aware of if they were patrolling our boundaries. Border crimes are bound to happen where there is a lack of policing and this is the situation in our area,” he said.
North West police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane agreed that stock theft was a problem, caused in most cases by stray livestock grazing along the borderline. He added that water was stolen in South Africa because of a shortage in Botswana.
Although no patrol vehicles were seen during the time spent by The Star along the border, Ngubane said the area patrolled by Makgobistad police stretches about 67km from the Ramatlabama border post and goes on for 122km towards Boshoek entry point.