SOUTH African immigration officers at Beitbridge Border Post went on a go-slow yesterday, leaving travellers stuck for over six hours before being cleared to depart for Zimbabwe.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
Travellers on buses that arrived just after midnight complained of delays by the officers amid unconfirmed reports they were unhappy with the deployment of Hawks and Home Affairs ministry internal security to monitor the immigration department.
Thousands of Zimbabweans based in South Africa are trooping home this weekend for the Easter holidays.
No comment could be obtained from South African immigration officials who did not entertain questions from the media.
“We arrived aboard a coach just after midnight, but we were cleared this morning at 9am. Other passengers are still that side and many buses headed for Malawi and Zambia have been caught in the delays,” Russel Makova from Rusape said.
Makoni, who was coming from Johannesburg said the officers worked at a slow pace, at times disappearing from their counters.
South African immigration officers at Beitbridge have this year been under the spotlight for dereliction of duty and one official is in trouble for focusing on her phone and not travellers.
The officers are also accused of tampering with biometric capturing equipment recently installed to process travellers. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean Customs and Excise Department has deployed 50 officers to Beitbridge to assist during the Easter weekend.
“Fifty additional officers have been deployed to Beitbridge and the number includes supervisors and managers,” Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) board secretary for corporate communications and international affairs, Ropafadzai Majaja, said yesterday.
She said the Zimra online system has been fixed and motorists could now process their vehicle temporary import permits (TIP) to avoid delays.
“Yes, the e-TIP facility is available and people can apply from the comfort of their homes. People can also use smart phones to apply and drastically reduce delays,” Majaja said.
“Operation Restore Order has also removed touts and vendors in the border post yard,” she said.