By Liz Dlodlo
Zimbabwe’s Immigration Department has clarified the categories of travellers allowed to leave or enter through the Beitbridge border post.
The assistant immigration officer in charge, Nqobile Ncube has since written a memo directed to staff and border stakeholders on the latest development.
According to the memo, Zimbabweans and South Africans could return to their countries without the need to clear with the consulate or embassies from Saturday.
With immediate effect, all South African nationals and holders of South African Permanent Resident Permits are now allowed to leave the country under the current order.
In addition, the document said the same scenario applied to Zimbabweans in South Africa who no longer require authorisation to travel from the Department of International relation and Cooperation (DIRCO) in that country.
“All Zimbabweans returning home shall be allowed passage subject to relevant Covid-19 compliances as administered by the Port Health.Permanent resident holders are also to be granted entry as guided by the referred regulations,” said Ncube in the memo.
The latest move comes as a relief to Zimbabweans working in South Africa who have been failing to travel under strict lockdown regulations.
Pretoria and Harare closed their borders to ordinary travel in March at the height of the rise in Covid19 cases in Sadc.
Before the review of the lockdown regulations which took effect on 1 October, only commercial cargo was permitted to pass through the selected ports of entries.
In a related statement, the Department of Home Affairs (South Africa) said it had opened 18 land ports with effect from 1 October while the other 35 remain closed.
“The Department of Home Affairs is extending the validity period of legally issued visas which expired during the lockdown period to 31 January 2021.
Holders of such visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until 31 January 2021. Those wishing to be repatriated to their countries within this period can depart without being declared undesirable persons,” it said.
The Department said it had resumed services for applications for identity cards or documents and for all types of passports.
It said visa services, including submission of applications through VFS Global, will also resume in the following categories: Visitor’s, study, treaty, business, crew, medical, relative’s, general work, critical skills work, intra-company transfer work, retired person, corporate, exchange visas.
“Some of these services will also be available through our Missions abroad.
Any person from a country listed as having a high COVID-19 infection and transmission rate, who wish to undertake a business travel into South Africa, may with effect from 01 October 2020, in writing, apply to the Minister of Home Affairs and demonstrate reasons for their request to enter the Republic for business purposes during the period of the national state of disaster,” said the Department.