Zimbabwe will this week re-open Beitbridge, its major border post with South Africa, to receive more than 3,000 of its citizens who have been residing in the neighboring country.
Most of the returnees crossed the border illegally into the neighboring country but have requested to be sent back home in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, state media reported Sunday.
According to the Sunday Mail, they will be received without any conditions attached, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke said.
He did not say when exactly during the week the border post, which is currently open to commercial clients only, will be re-opened to other forms of traffic but said all logistics with their South African counterparts were being made to allow even those without the requisite papers to pass through.
“We are going to open the Beitbridge Border Post to allow for the passage of the country’s citizens back into the country. We have more than 3,000 who have requested to be sent back home… We don’t want them to use illegal channels to come back because we want to account for everyone in the wake of COVID-19,” Matuke said.
He said some of them were of no fixed abode and were always running away from law enforcement agents while others were doing odd jobs which are no longer available because of COVID-19.
South Africa last week extended its lockdown period by two more weeks from the previous three weeks.
Facilities had already been put in place in Beitbridge where the returnees will be isolated and tested for COVID-19.
Matuke said he would be touring facilities that had been set to host the country’s citizens that had chosen to return home from neighboring countries.
“Government and its partners will also be providing for them in terms of food and other provisions,” he said.
The Zimbabwean Embassy in Namibia has also requested all Zimbabwean nationals who have been affected by the lockdown and would want to return home to register their names on Monday and Tuesday.
These, however, are required to have valid travelling documents and national identity cards will meet their own travelling costs.
A notice from the embassy’s Consular Department said those who wanted to travel would go through Zambia where there was a possibility of a 14-day quarantine at the Zambian border before proceeding to Zimbabwe.
“There will also be a mandatory 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Zimbabwe,” the notice said.