By- Some Zimbabweans leaving South Africa said they were being blocked from crossing the Beitbridge border by border guards.
These people said the guards demanded valid documents from Zimbabweans to return home.
An online portal, GroundUp, reports that these people would eventually cross the border through unofficial routes.
An informal trader who spoke to GroundUp said she had decided to return home due to xenophobia in South Africa. She said:
I cannot stand the current wave of vigilantism in South Africa. The only possible option is to go back home to Zimbabwe.
The wave [of xenophobia] seems to be spreading to all provinces. It’s better I leave before this life-threatening situation is upon us.
She said she used to travel home almost every two weeks to visit her two children.
But since 2011, as the situation in Zimbabwe continued to deteriorate, she decided to stay in South Africa and run her informal business.
She said wants to return home but cannot do so under the new border rules. She said:
We are ordered to go back to South Africa, but if we go back, we risk being arrested. We are really stuck.
South Africa recently introduced 200 armed Border Management Authority (BMA) guards in Musina, Limpopo.
The guards are deployed at five “identified vulnerable parts” of the border and work with members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
Meanwhile, 178 000 Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders will be deemed illegal migrants in South Africa if they fail to regularise their stay in the country before the expiry of the six-month extension on 30 June 2023.
The ZEP permit was to expire at the end of December 2022 before it was extended by another six months but many families are still opting to voluntarily return to Zimbabwe.