From sleeping in the bush to deaths: Here’s what you need to know about the Beitbridge border post ‘chaos’

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After days of congestion and complaints from truck drivers and travellers, traffic has finally been cleared at the Beitbridge border post.

By December 22, some travellers had spent three nights at the border post known as the gateway to Africa.

While this was nothing new, especially during the festive season, the curfews in SA and Zimbabwe, and Covid-19 health protocols, reportedly added to the congestion.

Here’s a wrap of everything you need to know about the traffic jam that had Mzansi talking:

December 22: Sleeping in the bush with no security

Motorists and travellers said they were concerned about their safety because they were sleeping in bushes and inside their parked cars without protection.

Alice Mangwinye, who was travelling from Johannesburg to Masvingo in Zimbabwe, spent two days at the border after he was asked to redo his Covid-19 tests.

A border official said there was a need for SA and Zimbabwe to reassess its curfews as this added to the traffic hold up at the border post.

He said officials only cleared commercial cargo after 10pm, in line with the curfew.

December 24: Five die waiting in line, drivers bribe their way to the front 

By last Thursday afternoon, five people had died, including two women and a truck driver.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) said there were also unconfirmed reports of seven deaths of police officials.

The association condemned the situation as drivers and travellers stranded at the border post were left with no amenities to accommodate them.

Gavin Kelly, CEO of the RFA said this was the worst congestion in the history of the Beitbridge border post.

“Trucks are on every street and all over in the surrounding towns. Though congestion at Beitbridge has been a challenge for some time, the Covid-19 checks and curfews have severely worsened this. With proper planning, this nightmare could have been avoided,” he said.

Some drivers who wanted to skip the queue paid up to R1,000 in bribes.

December 26: Organisations call for Zweli Mkhize’s intervention

Organisations in the freight industry penned an open letter to health minister Zweli Mkhize, asking for his intervention regarding the Covid-19 testing stations, safety and wellbeing of truck drivers who were left without water or food while they endured long queues at the border post.