South African Local Government Minister Patricia De Lille got the shock of her life upon discovering that the newly erected R37 million 40km border fence in Beitbridge has already been vandalised. She has since requested for more soldiers to patrol the Zimbabwe-South Africa border.

This comes following reports that the fence at Beitbridge border was cut by South African citizens going into Zimbabwe to buy beer and cigarettes after shops closed due to covid-19 lockdown south of the Limpopo. South African citizens reportedly used donkey carts to steal fencing poles during Easter holiday break.

A picture circulating on Monday morning showed the barbed wire fence had been cut through, with a gaping hole now clearly visible in the fence, which separates the two countries.

Posting on social media, De Lille promised that action would be taken soon:

“With regard to the Beitbridge border fence which DPWI [department of public works and infrastructure] is erecting and criminal elements damaging the fence: I am investigating this matter. The contractor has increased security personnel. The Defence Force has also deployed soldiers to patrol the border,” she said.

“This was a project by DPWI to secure the borders and repair and replace the fence which has been badly damaged. I have requested that the department of defence increase security measures as reinforcement to protect our borders especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For the Beitbridge border fence, we are also considering additional deterring methods such as surveillance, sensors and alarms,” she said.