The Department of Home Affairs on Wednesday blamed freight companies for last week’s snarl-ups at the Beitbridge border post.
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi briefed the media and rubbished reports that four drivers had died while they waited in the queue to cross.
Motsoaledi did, however, confirm one driver had died.
The minister insisted that fewer people crossed the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe this year than they did in December 2019.
He blamed the extreme congestion on trucking companies that he said opted not to wait for long periods to be allowed into Botswana.
“Usually at this time of the year, we use an overflow area when Beitbridge cannot cope with the number of trucks that go through. But this year, it was the other way round,” Motsoaledi said.
Motsoaledi said trucks also failed to adhere to plans he and his Zimbabwean counterpart had set up in November.
These included a truck stop where tax and trade forms had to be filled in.
“Unfortunately, with these increased number of trucks, many truck drivers at Beitbridge panicked. They abandoned all the prior arrangements, which were made with the authority,” he said.
Motsoaledi also confirmed his deputy, Njabulo Nzuza, had tested positive for COVID-19 but appeared to be asymptomatic at this point and is self-isolating.
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