Africa

S. Africa to construct fence along Zimbabwe border

South Africa confirmed 150 people tested positive for COVID-19

Hassan Isilow   | 19.03.2020
S. Africa to construct fence along Zimbabwe border

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa is planning to erect 40 kilometers (25 miles) of fence along its border with Zimbabwe to keep out undocumented migrants or those infected with the novel coronavirus, a minister said Thursday.

“Another key intervention by Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is the installation of a fence at Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe,” Public Works Minister, Patricia De Lille said in a statement that highlighted some of her department’s responses in combating the COVID-19 virus.

She said her department’s approach is in line with measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa that requires borders and ports secured with immediate effect.

“The President stated that 35 of the 53 land entry points will be closed. This measure will, however, not be effective if the fences at the border are not secure, which in many places, they are not,” she said.

Ramaphosa said Thursday that 150 people tested positive for the COVID-19 virus to date and expressed concern that the numbers of infections could drastically rise if South Africans do not implement measures announced by government, including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

On Wednesday, there were 116 COVID-19 cases reported in South Africa meaning 34 new cases were recorded on Thursday.

De Lille said once the fences are installed it will ensure that no undocumented or those infected will cross into South Africa or neighboring Zimbabwe.

She said she invoked the emergency procurement procedures in relation to the erection of the 1.8 meters high (6-foot) fence that will be erected 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) on either side of the Beitbridge Land Port of Entry. Damaged and collapsed fences will be repaired.

The minister said the construction of the 40 kilometer (25 miles) fence would take one month and cost R37.2 million ($2.1 million).

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.

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

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