Beitbridge Border Post is unlikely to be opened to the public anytime soon after South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the employment of an additional 73 180 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist the SA Police Service (SAPS) in enforcing an extended lockdown.
Ramaphosa specified that the duties of the additional officers would include among other things maintaining law and order through supporting other state departments as well as securing the country’s borders in order to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in all nine provinces.
“Covid-19 infections cases continue to increase in the country … as a result, I have decided to employ an additional 73180 members of the SANDF consisting of the regular force, reserve force and auxiliary force,” reads Ramaphosa’s letter.
Judging by the tone of the letter, the Beitbridge Border Post might only open by the end of June, considering that the employment of the additional forces is for the period April 2 to June 26.
This is a significant addition to the initial 2820 SANDF members that were dispersed on March 25 across the country to assist police officers in ensuring that citizens adhered to the lockdown measures.
The authorisation of the additional officers by the president was made public on Twitter by DA leader John Steenhuisen who shared a letter by Ramaphosa to the co-chairperson of the joint standing committee on defence, Cyril Xaba.
South African crossing border to buy Zimbabwe beer
THIRSTY South Africans living along the border with Zimbabwe are reportedly jumping the boundary in search of beer.
Some enterprising Zimbabweans have capitalised on the demand and are making regular illegal forays into South Africa with supplies of what has become liquid gold in the neighbouring country.
The officer commanding Beitbridge Police District Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo said he heard unofficial reports that South African nationals had cut the newly erected fence to skip into Zimbabwe in search of beer.
“I have heard that, but our cycle patrol team has said cases of border jumping were on the decline following stepped up operations by the South African defence forces and a yet unexplained sudden flooding of the Limpopo River,” Nyongo said.
According to some villagers from the Dite area, east of Beitbridge town, scores of South African nationals from Musina and outlying areas were frequenting illegal crossing points to buy beer.
Pretoria banned the sale of alcohol during its national lockdown put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“The South African nationals have been coming here to buy beer and some people have been enjoying good business from those thirsty people,” a villager from Dite said.
“Some of them are bringing mealie-meal or cooking oil to trade as barter for beer. The price of beer has gone up in response to the demand,” another villager from the area said.
“Some people from Beitbridge town have also been coming with the beer they trade as barter with groceries.
“We are also having some Zimbabweans who jump the border into South Africa to buy groceries in bulk. Numbers and volumes of groceries coming through here increased soon after the lockdown.”
Security officials deployed to stop border jumping were allegedly cashing in on the business and paying no attention to the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
“They charge varying amounts for goods being smuggled and at times R15 per carton of any grocery.”