Zimbabwe on Sunday announced that it will be closing the Beitbridge border it shares with South Africa between 10 PM and 6 AM.
Officials said the decision follows new Covid-19 restrictions imposed by South Africa last week, including a curfew between 11 PM and 4 AM.
The border re-opened to the public on December 1 for the first time since the end of March when both countries went into a coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Zimbabwe’s assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge, Nqobile Ncube, said the curfew restrictions would not affect cargo and other essential service providers who are exempt. He said:
Post-December 1, our curfew times were set between 10PM and 6AM. Yes, from December 1 we were not implementing that because the border was operating 24 hours daily, but then South Africa implemented their curfew.
It’s effectively because of the implementation of the South African curfew that we also now suddenly have got to employ that curfew aspect because there is no way we can clear traffic and have it stuck in no-man’s-land.
This is happening when authorities are already overwhelmed by volumes of incoming traffic tens of thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa are returning home for the Christmas holidays.
Ncube indicated that Zimbabwe recorded a surge in human traffic at the border beginning Friday as many companies in South Africa closed for the holidays.