South African authorities stated they were going to build a 40km (25 miles) fence along its border with Zimbabwe to prevent undocumented migrants from entering the country and spreading coronavirus – even though Zimbabwe has no confirmed cases.
The fence is to be built on either side of the Beitbridge Land Port of Entry to “ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country,” Patricia de Lille, the public works minister, said in a statement on Thursday.
On Friday, South Africa has reported 202 confirmed cases of the virus with no fatalities yet. President Cyril Ramaphosa has already closed 35 of 53 land entry points.
“This measure will … not be effective if the fences at the border are not secure, which in many places, they are not,” de Lille said in the statement.
“All 40km of fence will be finished within one month. Local labour will be sourced by the contractor.”
“We are certainly not xenophobic. We have had thorough consultations with all the countries that are our neighbours. What is important for South Africa is to protect our own citizens and people coming into our country because at the border post now, you’ve got health inspectors and you’ve got environmental professionals and they are doing the testing and screening at the border. But if somebody just walks over the border, there are no such facilities,” she added.
South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised country, has long sought to reduce iillegalmigration from Zimbabwe, which it sees as a threat to local jobs in a country with unemployment of around 30 percent.