A number of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe are stranded at Ha-Tshirundu village in Malala Drift along the Beitbridge border fence. The SANDF has been guarding the border to prevent illegal crossings.
Zimbabwe has effected a hard lockdown and many fear arrest should they return.
Zimbabwe borders to close with immediate effect:
Albert Bvute, who jumped the border into South Africa over a week ago, has been stranded at Ha-Tshirundu since then. The 66-year-old Bvute was destined for Tzaneen where his son works.
He says he endured the walk through the bushes and the Limpopo River to seek medical attention in South Africa. He unfortunately has not been able to reach Tzaneen yet.
He is also now unable to go back home, due to the lockdown in Zimbabwe.
The 66-year-old has been struggling to access food. All he wants now is medication for his ailing limbs and abdomen. He says he is unable to walk back home because of his painful joints.
Discussion on the humanitarian crisis at Beitbridge Border Post:
Ha-Tshirundu has, for the past three days, also been home for a Zimbabwean cattle herder who lives about six kilometres from the village, on the Zimbabwean side of the border. He came to fetch his father’s cattle, which often cross the border to graze along the Malala Drift’s grazing field.
He hopes that when water levels in the Limpopo River subside and his cattle are able to cross, soldiers will let him pass and go home.
“I came here to fetch cattle but then the river filled up and the cattle can’t pass; I’m waiting for the water to pass. My home is about 6 kilometres from here. When the water level goes down, I will take my cattle and heard home; I will ask the soldiers.”
Business at a standstill
Business in the previously booming village has now come to a standstill.
A local businesswoman says Zimbabwe’s hard lockdown has resulted in a decline in clients as the village’s economy is dependent on border jumpers.
“Normally sell pap and drinks but since Zimbabwe went on lockdown, the business has been very slow. I now only depend on my child support grant.”
An SANDF chopper has periodically been flying over the river, keeping an eye on illegal border jumpers.
Long queues haunt the Zimbabwean side of the Beitbridge Border Post: