Hundreds have been arrested since Thursday as they tried to smuggle goods from South Africa into Zimbabwe.
The foiled attempts came as South Africa opened some land borders as well as its three main airports on October 1 to travellers after a six-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
South African authorities were alert as they anticipated that border jumpers would want to capitalise on the reopening of borders to cross the border at undesignated points.
Memory Chauke, a street vendor from Beitbridge told ZimLive that she had just walked more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) to South Africa’s northernmost town of Musina and bought goods she planned to resell in Zimbabwe for a profit. She added:
Where we stay there is no food, there is not enough food so we are hungry. We come to nearby shops and buy cheaper food, then go back to Zimbabwe.
Many Zimbabweans have time immemorial travelled to South Africa to buy goods for reselling or for employment as the collapsed local industry is failing to meet the demand from employment seekers and consumers.
The COVID-19 lockdown adversely affected livelihoods of many as it meant that those in South Africa were now unable to send goods back to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean land borders remain closed while airports have been reopened for international flights.