Scores of Zimbabweans, including those that are considered to be economic immigrants, continued to form long queues on the Zimbabwean side of the Beitbridge post on Wednesday, waiting to cross into South Africa.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe implemented a hard lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus infections. Videos of queues at the port of entry have gone viral on social media.
Many of the travellers work and live in South Africa with their families.
One of those in the queue, Tafadzwa Jari, says the Zimbabwean government’s announcement of a hard lockdown, with effect from Tuesday, has led to the scramble to return to South Africa.
Watch a chain of dozens of Zimbabweans crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo river into South Africa.
— Team Pachedu 🇿🇼 (@PacheduZW) January 7, 2021
“Its because of the lockdown that was announced on Saturday evening. I was not supposed to come back today. I was supposed to go maybe on the 15th but the reason that I came early is the lockdown. They must just open the border 24/7 because if there is a problem you don’t close people outside, you open more doors.”
Many of the travellers say they have spent the previous nights in the queue with Zimbabwean officials only attending to them during working hours.
South Africa no longer requires 72-hour COVID-19 test results, with health officials at hand to screen travellers.
Travellers with symptoms are referred for a rapid test.
In the video below, Zimbabweans continue to queue at Beitbridge: