(The Southern African Times) – With cases of illegal immigration between Zimbabwe and South Africa on the rise, authorities in Zimbabwe’s immigration department and other border agencies have strengthened their vetting of travelers to reduce such incidents.
Authorities have stepped up surveillance and screening of travelers at Beitbridge Border Post to restore the stability of the busy inland port of entry.
Illegal immigration has surged at Zimbabwe’s main border and several illegal crossing points along River Limpopo, according to a report by the state-owned Herald newspaper.
Data from the immigration department indicates that about 80 people are intercepted daily while trying to make an illegal border crossing. Furthermore, at least 10 people are stopped from entering Zimbabwe and four are barred from entering South Africa for not complying with COVID-19 protocols. Citizens from 13 countries, eight of them African, had been stopped from entering Zimbabwe.
“In June, we intercepted 214 illegal migrants and 226 in July. We also refused entry to 218 people in those two months,” an immigration official, Nqobile Ncube, said.
Close to 300 illegal migrants were arrested last week during a joint security operation and transferred to the police for further action.
Ncube added that enforcement and compliance teams had been deployed to focus on notorious spots for illegal crossings.
“When Zimbabwe started implementing COVID-19 protocols, passenger traffic through the border was suspended, leaving only commercial cargo, returning residents, bodies for burial and diplomats on government business allowed to use the land border posts. This then saw a number of people who fall out of these categories using illegal crossing points to enter and leave the country through the main border and the Limpopo River.”
The Limpopo usually acts as a natural barrier to attempted illegal crossings, but the drying of its river bed has made it easier for migrants and smugglers to navigate.