South Africa says it is ramping up border security 'to ensure the safe and smooth movement of travelers.' Rights activists worry the government is targeting Zimbabwean migrants traveling home for Christmas.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
Johannesburg, South Africa
The Beitbridge-Musina border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa is one of the busiest international roadways in Africa. Many travelers to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique pass through.
Home Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa today told the Monitor that increased security was aimed at ensuring security and speedy travel at Christmastime. "As a department, we are confident that all the required measures are in place to ensure the safe and smooth movement of travelers into and out of the country," he says.
But some Zimbabweans and human rights activists see the deployment of police, soldiers, and intelligence officers as an attempt to stop the migration of Zimbabweans into South Africa.
It is estimated that more than 3 million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa, some of them illegally, and the latest deployment of security agencies comes as a Dec. 31 deadline for Zimbabweans to renew their asylum status in South Africa approaches. Christmas is a peak season for many foreigners living in South Africa to visit family in their home countries.