The long delays at Beitbridge Border Post have seen a Zimbabwean woman collapsing and dying in an Eagleliner bus yesterday afternoon while waiting to be cleared to leave South Africa, almost 36 hours after arriving at the border.
The woman, whose identity is yet to be established, was travelling from Johannesburg to Harare, according to border sources and had been stuck in the queue on the South African side since Monday morning.
“We are yet to get full details on the women’s death, but what we have so far is that she had been at the border for over 24 hours. She was travelling in a Harare bound bus when she complained of fatigue before collapsing. The bus crew tried to render first aid to no avail,” said an official from South Africa.
The woman was pronounced dead by emergency services workers who were called to the bus and her body was taken to Musina Government Mortuary.
Both Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo and the Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa said they were yet to get details or the identity of the woman.
The growing traffic between the South Africa and Zimbabwe saw the first major road accident affecting Zimbabweans for several months when 23 Zimbabweans were injured when their Impala Tours bus overturned a few kilometres after passing Makhado town on Monday evening.
The cross-border bus was travelling from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe along the N1 highway.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr David Hamadziripi said there were fortunately no fatalities. “We established that there were no fatalities, but there were 23 injured (passengers). One was critical, four serious and 18 had minor wounds,” said the ambassador. “The injured were taken to Louis Trichardt Hospital. We are deeply stressed by the news of this accident, especially at a time when everyone is looking forward to a joyous and festive season of Christmas and the New Year. We wish all those who have injured a speedy recovery”.
Limpopo’s Department of Transport spokesperson, Mr Matome Moremi said the Makhado bus accident was still under investigation. While passenger traffic across the border is still only a third of last year’s festive season, the new health checks and the curfews are causing congestion of vehicles and people with travellers spending at least two days to access either country.
The situation grew worse on Friday when the South Africans stopped clearing light vehicles, pedestrians and buses between 10pm and 4am, with only commercial cargo being cleared at night, This has resulted in vehicles and travellers piling up on either side of the border.
“There is a need for the South Africans to implement the curfew on inbound traffic only and allow passage to departures,” one Zimbabwean official suggested. “This will minimise delays because Zimbabwe is able to clear traffic on a 24-hour basis.”
A total of 1 200 commercial trucks, 100 buses, including those carrying passengers in transit, and 1 600 light motor vehicles are using the border daily.