Covid-19: 'We are going to be very strict,' Motsoaledi warns Zimbabwean travellers

Test makes return to Zimbabwe unaffordable for some

02 December 2020 - 14:13
By Bernard Chiguvare and GroundUp
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi
Image: Thulani Mbele Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi

For many Zimbabweans, the cost of the Covid-19 tests necessary to cross the border will make the annual return home unaffordable.

Many Zimbabweans living and working in SA travel back home at the end of the year to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays with their families. 

However, several told GroundUp they would not be able to afford the test which both the Zimbabwean and SA governments demand.

Zimbabweans travelling home must present a negative Covid-19 test not older than 48 hours. The test costs R850 in a private laboratory.

“If you want to travel to another country, you need a Covid-19 certificate. It is your own private thing, so you can visit private laboratories for the Covid-19 test and get a certificate,” said Thilivhali Muavha, spokesperson for the Limpopo health department.

“Public hospitals do not do that.”

On their return to SA, travellers from Zimbabwe must present a negative test not older than 72 hours. That test costs US$60 (around R920).

At a meeting in Musina on November 27, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Zimbabwean home affairs and cultural heritage minister Kazembe Kazembe said the regulations must be followed.

“We are going to demand Covid-19 certificates,” said Motsoaledi.

Marvelous Moyo, who runs a food stall near the SA border gate, said since March this year she had not been able to afford to visit her family in Masvingo because the lockdown had affected her business.

“Though borders were opened for us to travel back home I could not. My only means of sustaining a living is through selling food at this place. The little money I am getting since we were allowed to go back to business is not enough to meet the travel costs including Covid-19 certificates.”

"I wish both governments would drop this requirement because I really need to visit my family,” said Moyo.

Another Zimbabwean trader, Ruth Chirinda, also expressed concerns about the certificate.

“I miss my three children who are being taken care of by my mother. Since March I could not travel back home. Now it is December. I need to spend the holiday with the family,” said Chirinda.

Other Zimbabweans told Groundup they would use illegal routes to return home.

Kazembe said, “We need to save lives. This pandemic is real. We urge our citizens to plan their trips. If you know you want to travel in a few weeks, do what is expected of you so you do not have challenges at the border.”

“Now that borders are open it is not going to be free for all,” said Motsoaledi.

“We are going to be very strict.”

He said there would be joint operations involving the army, police, municipal police and SA Revenue Service to minimise illegal crossing.

Measures were in place to detect fake Covid-19 certificates, he said.

This article was first published by GroundUp.