Desperation drives border jumpers (23-11-06)

MUSINA - Hundreds of Zimbabweans say they will continue to cross into South Africa illegally despite the beatings, torture and rape at the hands of border patrols officers and thieves on both sides of the Limpopo Rivers.
Several women who spoke to The Zimbabwean in Musina that

it was better to face the danger coming to South Africa because they would do menial jobs and go back home with some Rands to feed their families.
Ruramai Mukumba, from Renco Mine in Masvingo said, “We are sometimes raped by Maguma guma (the people who take border jumpers across the Limpopo for a fee) and they they search us everywhere looking for money, but we have now devised ways of sending our monies home,” she said.
Berita Chikomo from Chirumanzu who survives by selling cigarettes in Musina said she had fallen in love with a South Africa soldier who now facilitates her entry in South Africa and also” shields me” from deportation.
She says she doesn’t really love the South African soldier, but she has no option as she has to raise funds to look after here family back home in Zimbabwe.
Life is tougher for men and boys who are beaten up and bundled into trucks and detained at the police station before being deported to Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile travellers have complained of thefts at the bridge between the South Africa and Zimbabwe. Some have lost their goods and money to thieves in broad daylight and could not understand why such a thing could happen as there border patrol officials at both sides of the bridge.
An official at Beitbridge police station, who declined to be named, confirmed the thefts and blamed it on border jumpers.

Illegal crossings increase
MUSINA – The recent introduction of strict visa requirements by South Africa has fuelled dangerous and illegal entry into that country by desperate Zimbabweans fleeing political persecution, torture and poverty.
Scores of people who assist Zimbabweans to cross illegally into South Africa in Beitbridge said they have had “brisk business” since the SA embassy in Harare announced the new visa structure last month.
“The number of people coming here for help has increased over the last few weeks and we think it’s because it is now difficult to get the visa in Harare,” said Luckson Mlilo, who charges between R300 to R500 for his services.
To get a visitors’ visa, one is required to have travellers cheques worth R1 000 plus Z$108 000 repatriation, refundable, deposit, ostensibly for use in case of deportation or death whilst the individual is in SA
The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), an organization fighting for the protection of human rights in Zimbabwe has condemned the tightening of visa requirements by South Africa saying the move was “calculated to restrict legal entry into its territory by Zimbabweans.”
And yet South Africa has been actively recruiting engineers and other skilled personnel from Zimbabwe, particularly as it seeks to prepare for the 2010 World Cup. – Own correspondent

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