South Africa may tighten security on border with Zimbabwe

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JOHANNESBURG – A South African minister on Monday requested the army to increase security measures, as unknown individuals destroyed part of a 40-kilometer (25 miles) fence erected along its border with Zimbabwe.

“I have requested that the Department of Defense increase security measures as reinforcement to protect our borders especially during the COVID 19 pandemic,’’ Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille said in statement posted on Twitter.

Last month, South Africa started constructing the fence at Beit Bridge, a land border with its neighbor Zimbabwe.

On Monday morning, South Africans woke up to shock with a picture on the social media showing part of the new barbed wire fence had been cut through, implying some illegal migrants had passed through the fence from Zimbabwe into South Africa.

In March, de Lille said the fence would keep out undocumented migrants or those infected with the coronavirus from getting into South Africa.

De Lille said on Monday her ministry is considering additional deterring methods such as increase border surveillance, as well as introducing sensors and alarms along the border.

South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized economy, attracts thousands of migrants annually who seek jobs on farms and factories, but some come into the country illegally by crossing through porous borders.

In various occasions South African citizens have attacked migrants, who they accuse of taking jobs by accepting low wages and being in the country illegally.