Almost 800 additional officials to be deployed to borders in January

A long convoy of vehicles, stretching several kilometres towards Beitbridge border post in Musina, Limpopo, and scores of people were queueing for days to leave the country ahead of Christmas Day. Picture: Camilo Ramada

Testing, policing and immigration services are being ramped up to prevent chaos at all costs.

Hundreds of officials from various departments have been deployed to bolster efforts at border posts across the country. 

Chaotic scenes flooded social media after reports that trucks and other vehicles were stuck in 20km queues at the Beitbridge border just before Christmas day. 

The Road Freight Association (RFA) reported that at least four truck drivers died while waiting to cross the border. 

But the RFA’s claims were slammed by Department of Home Affairs minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, who said these allegations were tantamount to propaganda. 

ALSO READ: Health department suspends screening at Beitbridge

Motsoaledi confirmed in a media briefing on Wednesday that one truck driver died on 23 December. 

In a bid to ease traffic flows at Beitbridge, the health department suspended Covid-19 screening for truck drivers. 

Screening remains suspended for truck drivers, however, all other travellers wishing to enter the country must either provide valid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test results, or take a rapid antigen test at all entry points at their own costs. 

This includes the Kosi Bay border post, which has been closed since March. Kosi Bay will reopen on 1 January, Motsoaledi confirmed. 

To prevent any threats of congested border posts, 160 officials will be deployed at the Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru bridge, Ficksburg, Kopfontein and Oshoek borders from 2 to 14 January 2021.

60 additional immigration officials will be deployed to support the South African National Defence Force, who are policing high-risk areas along the border regarding illegal crossings into the country. 

Motsoaledi said officials are not going to stop people from coming into South Africa but will be insisting that anyone coming into the country must use official gates with relevant documents.

More than 294 health officials will also be deployed at all ports of entry to deal with PCR and antigen testing. 278 community service personnel will also assist health officials. 

The National Health Laboratory Service has also confirmed it would be enlisting private laboratories for additional Covid-19 testing support, and the South African military health services have provided 73 more officials to assist with testing as well. 

Travellers can also expect a plethora of roadblocks, to be conducted by provincial authorities. This will take place across the country, but notably in Limpopo, the Free State, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal. 

In addition to this, cross-border road transport agency inspectors will also be placed at the Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru, and Ficksburg border posts.

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