South Africa re-opens land borders

South Africa will reopen 20 land borders tomorrow, the country’s Cabinet decided yesterday.

The border crossings between South Africa and Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were closed on January 11 in an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19.

A statement from the Home Affairs department said minister Aaron Motsoaledi, deputy minister Njabulo Nzuza and director-general Tommy Makhode will visit the four busiest border posts for the reopening tomorrow.

Motsoaledi said the management of people through borders remained an important part of South Africa’s strategy to control the spread of Covid-19.

“In the past four weeks the department has increased its engagements with officials in neighbouring countries, provinces with land borders, and other stakeholders to improve coordination of efforts,” he said.

“The aim of these engagements was to share plans and ensure seamless movement of travellers and goods to minimize the chances of border crossings being super-spreader events.”

Motsoaledi said anyone arriving at a border with a faked Covid-19 test result would be turned back and barred from South Africa for at least five years.

“We appeal to travellers to ensure that they have all the requisite travel documents, including valid Covid-19 tests, when they present themselves to officials at our borders,” he said.

“Truck drivers should adhere to laws, regulations and agreements in place in the border area. This will go a long way in minimising congestion.”

In December last year, Motsoaledi complained that scores of Zimbabwean travellers were turning up at the Beitbridge border with fake Covid-19 certificates.

The minister also claimed that Zimbabwean soldiers were assisting illegal immigrants to cross into South Africa in exchange for money.

Thousands of Zimbabweans survive by buying various things from the neighbouring country for resale back home and the closure of the land borders has negatively affected their livelihoods.

Zimbabwe is yet to announce the dates for the reopening of its land borders.

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