Truck drivers say they are being targeted at the Beitbridge border post

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(ARCHIVE PHOTO) Trucks parked at the Beitbridge.
(ARCHIVE PHOTO) Trucks parked at the Beitbridge.
Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu
  • One truck driver, who spent five days at the border, alleged some drivers bribe officials to skip the long screening lines.
  • The All Truck Drivers Foundation said law enforcement needed to beef up security at night.
  • Traffic at the border reportedly stretches for more than 15km. 

Truck drivers say they are being left to fend for themselves at the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe at night while waiting to be screened.

Truck driver and Gauteng secretary of the All Truck Drivers Foundation Mandla Mngomezulu said drivers were being robbed of their cellphones and clothes while waiting to be screened because the police were only visible during the day.

"In the last week, I have heard of about 10 incidents. Most drivers do not report them to the police because they say it's a waste of time and how are you going to attend to the case when you are on the road most of the time?" added Mngomezulu. 

Last week, he spent five days at the border and said the biggest cause for the delay was the Covid-19 screening process.

"There is no water here and we have to go to the bathroom in the bushes."  

Corruption

The executive director of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations, Mike Fitzmaurice, described the grim conditions in an open letter to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

South African regulations did not take into consideration antigen tests done in Zimbabwe, said Fitzmaurice.

Truck drivers are required to undergo a test upon entry to South Africa, but these are only conducted between 09:00 and 17:00.

Fitzmaurice also noted the facilities and staffing levels were hopelessly inadequate to cope with the traffic volumes.

"In every residential street, there are trucks parked all over the place," he told Business Insider (BI) South Africa about the backlog on the Bulawayo road.

"The whole town has been invaded by trucks [but] that's through no fault of the truckers because they have nowhere else to go."

In a statement on Wednesday, the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, advocate Bongani Bongo, called for intervention on the backlog at the border and stated it was necessary to find a balance between easy flowing traffic and measure in place to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

"While we understand the need for stringent health checks necessitated by Covid-19, we are also cognisant of the strategic importance of the Beitbridge crossing to trade in Africa. It is in this context that strategies should have been put in place to mitigate such an occurrence, especially in relation to reducing operating hours," Bongo said.

Fitzmaurice also told BI there was corruption at the border, with some truckers paying officials to bypass the Covid-19 test.

The alleged corruption is something Mngomezulu echoed.

"There is also corruption where drivers pay about R500 for their trucks to be moved to the front of the line and we are told it is because they are carrying special goods which is not the case," he said.

Limpopo police spokesperson Captain Mamphaswa Seabi encouraged truck drivers to report instances of robbery, saying they had not received any reports.

Seabi said thus far there had not been any major incidents at the border, adding it was calm, despite queuing traffic reportedly stretching for more than 15km.

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