THE chaos at Beitbridge Border Post has claimed the life of a cross-border haulage truck driver who died in his vehicle yesterday as he waited for his turn to be cleared to cross the border from South African into Zimbabwe, bringing the number to four in the last few days.
For almost two weeks, Beitbridge Border Post has witnessed long queues of vehicles awaiting to be cleared to cross the border, either into Zimbabwe or South Africa at a time COVID-19 regulations demand that travellers should have certificates showing that they are coronavirus-free.
South Africa’s Road Freight Association chief executive Gavin Kelly yesterday told eNCA news channel that four drivers died at the border, with traffic having been at a standstill for over five days due to stringent COVID-19 checks. eNCA also reported that at least 11 other people died earlier this week while waiting to get into Zimbabwe.
South African police had not confirmed the incident that occurred on their side of the border by the time of going to print. But witnesses said the trucker was driving a refrigerated container carrying perishables, and was found lifeless in his truck after it was noticed that it had remained stationary for a long time.
“His body was removed from the truck. His death has shocked other drivers who are now apprehensive as people are stranded at the border at a time there is a surge in COVID-19 cases,” a truck driver, who witnessed the incident, said.
During his recent visit to the border, South African Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi ruled out the establishment of another border post to ease congestion at Beitbridge.
Meanwhile, thousands of travellers are set to spend Christmas in queues at the border.
An immigration officer, who requested anonymity, said the slow processing of travellers would see many spending Christmas at the border.
“It’s a sad reality. People deployed at the border in both countries are failing to cope, particularly in the health sector which has to screen all travellers of COVID-19,” the immigration official said.