South Africa’s Home Affairs Department has set up a series of roadblocks near the Beitbridge border post where it is intercepting Zimbabweans entering the border illegally.
Home Affairs Minister Aaran Motsoaledi told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that the roadblocks are designed to net all illegal immigrants.
Motsoaledi was quoted as saying at least 179 Zimbabweans, who were found at the border, were turned back on Sunday.
South African police and the Department of Immigration set up the first road block near the Betbridge border post, the second at Boabab, about 30 kilometers from Musina.
Motsoaledi added that there is another road block which acts as a firewall in case some people are not accounted for in the first two road blocks.
“So we are putting a series of firewalls,” he noted.
One of the illegal immigrants identified as 35-year-old Sipho Moyo, told the SABC that he had to jumo the border because “I have no choice”, and “they are sending me back to Zimbabwe and I don’t have anything. I will follow what they want. I don’t have the documents. No ID.”
Thousands of Zimbabweans are living illegally in the neighboring country due to the harsh economic and political situation back home.
Dennis Juru of the Zimbabwe Crossborder Traders Association described the South African crackdown as “meaningless because the deported people will soon find their way back to that country.”
Zimbabwe has also reportedly intercepted hundreds of illegal border jumpers along the South Africa/Zimbabwe border.
South Africa is also planning to discontinue the Zimbabweans Special Exemption Permits, which expired on December 31st this year.
Motsoaledi told SABC that nobody will force his government to reverse it decision to discontinue the permits program.