THE Beitbridge border post almost came to a standstill as an estimated 7 000 members of Zion Christian Church arrived en-route for a pilgrimage to Defe, in Gokwe.
On the departure side, crowds locked the border as shoppers headed in the opposite direction into South Africa.
Passengers aboard about a hundred 70-seater buses, others in smaller cars and hundreds of other separate holiday makers swarmed the border post from South Africa.
There was a sea of people on both sides of the border post which is divided by the Limpopo River, the physical boundary of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The travellers formed long queues that could be seen meandering from offices, while their vehicles made the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) yard resemble a huge, awesome vehicle storage park.
“We are coping with the pressure, it’s all under control,” Zimra’s acting regional manager at Beitbridge, Thabani Sibanda, said.
He was physically on the ground and leading from the front, controlling and directing traffic.
Beitbridge immigration boss only identified as Ncube said it was hectic, but his office was on top of the situation.
“Defe pilgrimage has given us business. We are on top of the situation, but it’s hectic,” Ncube said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority manager at Beitbridge, Bertha Mutowembwa, said it was a good day for tourism.
“We call this religious tourism. It will increase business in hotels, service stations, shops, curios shops, you name it. It is good business,” she said.
Members of the Zimbabwe National Army deployed to rid the border of criminals stepped up patrols within the area, bringing an atmosphere of both anxiety and safety to travellers.
In sheer coincidence, the departure side was full as well and traffic to South Africa had been stopped.
Motorists, some who claimed to have arrived at dawn, were yet to depart as the South African side could not cope with the high numbers of arrivals.
“I arrived here at 4am and have still not left the Zimbabwean side. I am made to understand the South African side is full to capacity and there is no parking space,” Adrin Moyo said on his way to Polokwane