…Corruption rampant at border
…Fake Covid-19 certificates used
Latwell Nyangu recently in Beitbridge
Zimbabweans staying in South Africa are returning home using unorthodox means without proper documents including Covid-19 PCR certificates and passports, H-Metro observed.
This comes after SA is experiencing a second wave of corona virus and there have been calls to contain the virus through thorough tests on individuals in transit.
Excess deaths are on the up again as the Covid-19 second wave establishes itself in SA.
In the week ending December 8, there were 2,543 excess deaths from natural causes compared with the number predicted based on historical data.
The Covid-19 death toll in the same week was 723.
Zimbabwe re-opened borders this month after eight months but the move has coincided with a rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths, a situation likely to be worsened by influx of people from countries with higher cases.
There are genuine fears that these people sneaking into the country ahead of the Christmas holiday and destined for all parts of the country will plunge the country in a Covid-19 crisis of imported cases.
Several of Zimbabweans are using risky means like crossing through the dangerous Limpopo River, paying bribes as well as using the popular ‘jaggers’ who use the river to cross.
H-Metro, made a survey at the border where it was established that Zimbabweans coming home only need to put bribes in their passports.
Both officials from the Zimbabwean and South African side have no other business if one does not have required documents except money.
Bribe demands range from R20 to R300 depending on the documents lacking.
Security officials from the SA side asked this reporter:
“Are you guys paying to gain entry to SA, how much are you paying to come here.
“A lot of people without the documents are entering, how are you coming here.
“Look at some who are using the under bridge pathways.
“They are paying to your side, but why are they letting you here without proper documents,” said one of the officials.
Asked how they are dealing with such cases, he said.
“There is nothing we can do, because how can you tell this is authenticated Covid-19 tests.
“People are paying some money to make their journeys easier despite the new virus.”
Going to SA, there are six checkpoints including the immigration offices and bribes are common at checkpoints after the offices.
“I have never used a passport in my life, I just go wherever I want and during lockdown I only used R250 and now I have only used R100.
“It’s easy to cross here, these guys just want money and you can go wherever you want.
“I don’t have these certificates,” narrated an unsuspecting Zimbabwean.
This reporter pretended that his Covid-19 papers were not in order, and was asked to put R200 in his passport whilst in the toilet.
“Look your certificates are difficult to prove, but even if you don’t have these, I can let you in, provided you give me a drink.
“So can you go into the toilet and put R200 in your passport and I will let you go.
“At least next time you will know what is required here but as long you don’t have anything, just give me drink,” said an official at the SA side.
Several Zimbabweans are paying bribes to gain entry to either SA or Zimbabwe side.
“Like you see today, the security officers changed the routes, after their bosses arrived.
“Some of them won’t even be on duty but they will be here collecting money.
“It’s easy to go to SA or come to Zimbabwe as long you have your money, R600 is enough to cross the border,” added another evader.
Fake PCR certificates have also flooded the border.
“Imagine, I had my test which was signed by a professional doctor yet they are giving me problems here.
“They are saying these certificates are fake, but look at other people who are just passing through without all these documents,” said one of the frustrated cross border traders
Corruption has been blamed for all the loopholes at the border post during the time of fighting Covid-19.
“The issue of PCR certificates is a non-event here because not all of these cross borders have been tested officially but there are a lot of cooked certificates but money is doing the talking here.
“All these officials are corrupt, hapana asiri kutora mari; you can only be allowed if you give them money.
“Without money, it’s a challenge but everyone who wants to cross knows the skill.”
Sadly, Zimbabweans are going through the under bridge risky entrance.
“I get some money from helping these cross border traders pass, since we take them under the bridge and make them climb through the rope to the next level.
“Once they pass that stage they are good to go,” said a tout.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic police a few days ago announced that they had stepped up patrols and checks along roads leading to and from borders.
They have since arrested suspects for smuggling goods and clothing from SA.