The Department of Home Affairs says people from neighbouring countries who try to enter South Africa with invalid Covid-19 certificates are being turned away and declared undesirable.
Last week, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi delivered a plan outlining the operations at South Africa’s ports of entry from 2 January to 14 January meant to deal with the anticipated increased numbers at borders witnessed during the festive and early-January periods, as well as Covid-19.
The plan included additional government officials being been deployed to the country’s ports of entry during this busy period.
The department’s spokesperson, Siyabonga Qoza, said those entering South Africa would first go through the South African Police Service (SAPS), then port health officials who would authenticate whether their Covid-19 certificate and then customs and immigration.
Qoza said people who presented invalid Covid-19 certificates were denied entry and declared undesirable, and that port health officials kept and reported these statistics.
Qoza said Motsoaledi was at Beitbridge border to monitor the implementation of the plan.
Around the Christmas period, from 23 December to 26 December, unusual congestion was witnessed at the Beitbridge port of entry.
In the plan, the department said only travellers with a valid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test were allowed into the country and that those without it would be subjected to a rapid antigen test at ports of entry, at their own cost.
The department said only truck drivers were exempted from the test requirement.
The department has planned the following as people return to South Africa:
- The Department of Home Affairs will deploy an additional 160 officials at six of the busiest land ports of entry, including Beitbridge and Lebombo.
- Another 60 additional immigration law enforcement officers will be deployed to support the SA National Defence Force at identified high-risk areas along the border, where people have a tendency to cross illegally into SA.
- The Department of Health, via its port health unit, will deploy additional health officials to all ports of entry to ensure that only travellers with valid PCR tests are allowed into the country.
- More than 259 port health officials will be deployed to all ports of entry. In addition, 278 community service personnel on contract will be deployed. The National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) will enlist private laboratories to provide additional support for testing. The South African Military Health Service have been requested to provide 73 additional military health personnel to help in the testing.
- Joint provincial policing teams have been activated to conduct roadblocks and vehicle control points within the border law-enforcement area.
- Provincial authorities will also conduct roadblocks mainly in Limpopo, Free State, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
- The Cross-Border Road Transport Agency will also deploy inspectors at Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge and Ficksburg for the same duration. That means from the 2 January to 14 January 2021.
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