Hundreds arrested trying to illegally cross Beitbridge Border Post into South Africa

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SOUTH Africa’s Home Affairs officials together with police and soldiers have arrested hundreds of undocumented foreign nationals at the Beitbridge Border Post at Musina in Limpopo.

There has been a strong police presence at the port of entry since the start of the Easter weekend.

With large numbers of holidaymakers travelling to various destinations following the long Easter weekend, some undocumented foreign nationals are also trying to cross into the country illegally through the Beitbridge Border Post.

Most of the arrested people are from Zimbabwe as well as other SADC countries.

Some illegal border jumpers could be seen in the distance crossing the border and assisting others to carry their luggage into Zimbabwe through the Limpopo River.

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, was at the country’s busiest border post, to monitor the situation.

“From the 11th of April until today, which is the whole week, more than 700 people, who were trying to cross illegally, have been arrested and sent back.”

Minister Motsoaledi says the safety campaign, which started last week, will continue throughout this week to curb illegal crossings.

“As you can see, we have deployed here at the border,” he said.

“But, by chance, there might be some people who escape and those who are caught at two roadblocks … there’s a roadblock just when you enter Musina and there’s a roadblock 30 kilometres outside Musina next to the Baobab plaza. So, the two roadblocks will clean up whatever has, somehow by any chance, escaped here from the border.”

Meanwhile, the Border Management Authority’s Commissioner, Dr Mike Masiapato, said that the department is working tirelessly to strengthen the border management.

“The issue of the fence is one of those critical issues that we’re actually going to look at. One thing that I can confirm now is that all the infrastructure in the land borders particularly, is going to be transferred from the Department of Public Works into Border Management Authority.

“So, at that point, we’re going to start taking over this kind of responsibility in terms of maintaining all the infrastructure around and all of that. So obviously, we are still going to be engaging with the National Treasury around financing-related issues. And out of that in the longer term, we’ll be able to start rehabilitating the fence.”

Dr Masiapato says the department’s Border Management Authority will deploy 200 newly-appointed guards to the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, to work with the members of the SANDF on a 24-hour basis to stop illegal border crossings.