Beitbridge border- OkayAfrica

A general view of the border fence that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post, near Musina, on October 1, 2020.

hoto by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images

COVID-19 Concerns Increase as ​Zimbabweans Spend Second Week Queuing at Border

Long queues at South Africa's Beitbridge border between Zimbabwe have raised concerns over the super-spreading of COVID-19 as both countries enter a lockdown.

According to TimesLIVE, COVID-19 concerns are increasing for both South Africa and Zimbabwe. This follows a second week of a bottlenecking situation at South Africa's Beitbridge border post caused by an influx of Zimbabweans who want to to re-enter the country. The cause of the long queues is reportedly due to the coronavirus screening process between the two countries. It is unclear when this queue started although News24 reports that the queuing began this past Sunday. Zimbabwe is set to re-enter a hard lockdown starting next week Tuesday as part of efforts to combat rising coronavirus cases.

Read: South Africa Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan

Reports of a bottleneck at the border initially circulated on December 27th and as such, reinforcements were sent to Beitbridge from January 2nd to January 14th. Desperation to re-enter South Africa has seen a rise in fake COVID-19 test results which are reportedly being sold by a syndicate. This after the MEC of Health in Limpopo, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, announced that people with positive COVID-19 test results would be denied entry into the country.

The border crisis has become the subject of debate on social media with various voices coming out under the hashtag #CloseBeitbridgeBorder. The Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF)'s Mbyuseni Ndlozi called for the border to remain open and for the situation to be addressed as a humanitarian issue. He further went on to call for accountability from Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Tensions are rising as there are concerns that the queues will become a site for the super-spreading of the coronavirus. Others on social media have used the hashtag to express both health concerns and xenophobic sentiments.

Zimbabweans are not only the ones faced with difficulty in re-entering South Africa. Citizens from Lesotho have reportedly been caught illegally crossing into South Africa with some risking their lives crossing a river in the Free State. Four drivers reportedly died in December while waiting for the COVID-19 screening to occur at Beitbridge border. South Africa is currently in an adjusted level-three lockdown following an unprecedented rise in coronavirus infection rates.