River, fences and Covid-19 tests don't stop influx to SA

10 January 2021 - 00:00 By Sunday Times Reporter
Zimbabweans wait for the level of the Limpopo River to subside before they attempt to cross to SA.
Zimbabweans wait for the level of the Limpopo River to subside before they attempt to cross to SA.
Image: Supplied

SA's land borders became a scene of Covid-19 agony and anarchy this week, with queues up to 10km long and reports of thousands of people jumping fences.

The requirement that only travellers with valid negative Covid tests could enter the country led to a boom in forged test results, the deaths of seven people crossing a river on a makeshift raft and farmers reporting fences being cut about 30 times a day.

Thousands of people are streaming into the country illegally from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Lesotho. "People are desperate to return to work in SA," said Free State Agricultural Union safety risk analyst Jane Buys.

A senior Mpumalanga home affairs official said that as well as a shortage of Covid-19 test kits, forged test results were a growing problem.

"Those we have caught with fake tests say they pay R500 for a fake negative test document. We have no idea how many people are coming across with
Covid-19," he said.

The Limpopo health department said 104 people in the queue at Beitbridge had tested positive, potentially putting thousands of migrants standing with them in contact with the virus. 


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