Members of the Patriotic Alliance (PA), including party leaders Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene, have taken it upon themselves to prevent returning Zimbabweans from entering South Africa illegally.
This is as more than 200 00 Zimbabwean nationals working and living in South Africa have started returning to the country.
On social media, members of the party have been seen trying to prevent those using the Limpopo River as a port of entry from entering the country.
In one of the videos, a man in cycling uniform and carrying a bicycle, is seen being turned back through the river.
After confronting the cyclist, McKenzie said it had become easy for undocumented immigrants to cross into South Africa undetected.
“Any illegal foreigner can literally come into South Africa and kill someone and casually stroll back into Zimbabwe. I am proud of members of the PA for giving up holiday time to come and stop them from entering our country illegally,” McKenzie said on X.
The party’s deputy president, Kunene, told the SABC that the country should tighten its border management as the borders had become porous.
He added that at least 800 soldiers were needed to help secure the ports of entry after reports indicated that Border Management Authority (BMA) officials had in the past 48 hours prevented more than 44 000 illegal immigrants from entering the country illegally.
“People are coming in as they please because the country has porous borders and our government is not doing anything about it. We need at least 8 000 soldiers to marshal our borders and our government is failing us,” he said.
On Thursday, the BMA commissioner Dr Michael Masiapato said they had managed to ensure an increased deployment of officials at the Beitbridge border following increased attempts by travellers trying to enter South Africa illegally.
He added that this border as well as Lebombo and Maseru border posts were the most congested as foreign nationals returned to South Africa.
“We have led operations at Beitbridge and we had three key roadblocks 3km from Beitbridge and another one 10km from that border. The last one was 30km from Beitbridge. All of those roadblocks are intended to intercept anyone who might try to cross into the country illegally.
“To this point, we can indicate that the deployments are well on the ground according to our deployment plan as we continue the operations. Even after we have exited as the leadership, we do know that the operations will continue by the officials and the teams are on the ground to make sure that all the issues are being effectively dealt with,” Masiapato said on Thursday.
Nicholas Mabhena, executive director of the Africa Diaspora Forum, said it was important for people to have the relevant documentation.
“We have been indicating that when you get to the border you must have all your documents. For instance if you are on permanent residency, you can’t go to the border carrying only your passport. You need to carry your ID and relevant certificate,” Mabhena said.
“If you are on a Zimbabwe exemption permit, your permit will be in your old passport. You have to carry your two passports. We have had instances where people forget to carry their old passports and then they either have to wait three days at the border as they won’t be allowed to enter South Africa.”
Meanwhile, Lindi Zantsi, an international evangelist and activist, has questioned South Africa’s ability to deal with the recent cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe as more and more Zimbabweans working and living in South Africa returned to the country after the holiday period.
“So now the Zimbabweans are allowed to enter from the country that is infected with cholera. Our medical staff that are already scarce and over worked must now go to the borders to screen ... The international standard process is to enter with a medical certificate from your country but since it is Zimbabweans they are allowed to enter at the cost of our health workers and safety of the citizens,“ Zantsi told The Star on Thursday.
This week, following reports of an outbreak, the national Department of Health said it had intensified screening across the border to ensure cholera was being contained.
In Zimbabwe, reports indicate that the outbreak has spread to all 10 provinces - with over 200 deaths.
In a statement, health spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department intensified screening services at the country’s borders following the recent outbreak in that country.
“The Department of Health has noted the recent cholera outbreak in neighbouring countries and its impact on the health systems. Working together with stakeholders like the Border Management Authority, we have intensified health screening services and health education at the land ports of entry to mitigate against the cross border transmission of the disease.
“Thus, we would like to urge all travellers returning from cholera-endemic areas including Zimbabwe to be vigilant of cholera symptoms and co-operate with health officials, and be transparent,” Mohale said. | Additional reporting by Yogashen Pillay