Five hundred and thirty more Zimbabweans wanting to return home from South Africa arrived at Beitbridge on Saturday afternoon including the first 204 having their transport costs covered by Government while the remainder paid their own fares to get home.
The returnees were taken to quarantine centres across the country, including the NSSA Hotel in Beitbridge.
The Zimbabwe Embassy has been arranging for bus companies to bring Zimbabweans home and helping get the required movement permits from the South African authorities.
But besides those who can afford their own fares, and just needed help to get a company to lay on the service, about 400 citizens living in South Africa needed free transport to the border.
Once in Zimbabwe all returnees are screened and then moved at Government expense to an appropriate quarantine centre near their homes.
The first group 204 needing free transport across South Africa arrived in a convoy of five buses and were taken to quarantine centres in Bulawayo, Masvingo and Harare.
Logistics are being worked out to bring the other 196 citizens on sponsored repatriation.
The 326 returning citizens and legal residents who paid for their transport arrived on seven buses and were dropped off at the National Social Security Authority Hotel in Beitbridge, which is being used as quarantine centre for returnees.
Under the self-repatriation model, Zimbabweans pay for their bus fares, with the embassy arranging transport and logistics, while on the assisted-repatriation model, the Government covers transportation costs.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr David Hamadziripi, said on Wednesday last week that they had entered into a partnership with businessman, Mr Justice Maphosa, to transport the 400 citizens.
Mr Maphosa is the CEO and founder of Bigtime Strategic Group.
The package includes transportation of 400 Zimbabweans and the provision of food on the journey.
The International Organisation for Migration provides technical support to the embassy and is working on another humanitarian support package.
Upon arrival in Beitbridge, the returnees are screened at the NSSA Hotel and then taken to other provincial quarantine centres nearer to their homes, where they are monitored for 14 days pending further management.
Director for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Totamirepi Tirivavi, on Saturday said they profile all the returnees and dispatch them to agreed provincial destinations.
“We received five buses with 204 on sponsored transport and 326 others on self-sponsored transport,” said Mr Tirivavi.
Government has mobilised enough resources to feed, accommodate and transport the returnees coming in through all ports of entry.
Zimbabwe has over 18 ports of entry, with most of them closed to non-essential human traffic.
Only commercial cargo is allowed passage through the borders, while those being repatriated need movement permits from neighbouring Governments under the ongoing lockdown protocols across the region, permits whycih the embassies negotiate.
Nearly 2 000 Zimbabweans, among them 527 deportees, have been repatriated from South Africa by road in the last two weeks.
In addition, 2 680 have registered with the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria, seeking repatriation while 6 000 have registered for food assistance.