SA's 40km Zimbabwe border fence goes ahead despite lockdown
Construction of the new 40km fence at the Beitbridge border post is going ahead despite the 21-day national lockdown which began on Friday.
The fence, announced by public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille just over a week ago, was to keep foreign nationals out of the country in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus into SA.
“This is to ensure no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice- versa, in line with one of the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa’s borders and ports are to be secured with immediate effect,” said De Lille.
The fence will cost just over R37m.
De Lille said the 1.8m-high fence would span 20km on each side of the border post separating SA from Zimbabwe.
De Lille's spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, said on Friday construction was going ahead during the lockdown.
"Yes, construction is continuing. The contractor received a permit from the department of trade and industry to continue work on the project," Nicholson said.
Nicholson said that at this stage, all the contractor's resources and plant had been mobilised on site.
"The drilling of holes to install the fence line posts has commenced along with clearing and grubbing to clear the path line for installation of the fence.
"The contractor has divided the work among eight teams who are each responsible for 5km of the 40km of work, where we are repairing and replacing the fence," Nicholson said.
Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that 35 of the 53 land-entry points would be closed.
De Lille said this measure would, however, not be effective if the fences at the border were not secure. In many places they were not.
She invoked the Disaster Management Act for emergency procurement procedures in relation to the erection and repairs of the border fences east and west of the Beitbridge border post.