17 ‘border jumpers’ found dead in Limpopo River

Zimbabwe border jumpers crossing the Limpopo

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
11 April 2014

The bodies of at least 17 suspected border jumpers, believed to have drowned in the Limpopo River, were discovered by Zimbabwe and South Africa police this week.

15 bodies were found on Wednesday by officials patrolling the river near Beitbridge. It is reported that the bodies, some of which had missing limbs, had been hidden in a cave by crocodiles.

The victims have been taken to a mortuary in the Musina border town. It has been reported that 14 of the victims have been positively identified as Zimbabwean citizens.

The latest discovery brings to 17 the confirmed number of deaths of suspected border jumpers this week alone. Two other bodies were found at different points along the river after attempting the crossing over the weekend. One of the victims reportedly lost both legs to crocodiles in the river.

The Limpopo region has been the site of serious flooding in recent weeks and last month the dangerous levels of the flooded river resulted in the temporary closure of South Africa’s border with Botswana.

Local officials near Beitbridge however were quoted by the Herald newspaper as saying the section where the bodies were found was not flooded.

The high number of drowned victims in one week has raised serious concerns of a new influx of Zimbabweans crossing illegally into South Africa.

The border crossing has for years been a site of tragedy for Zimbabweans, hundreds of thousands of whom have chosen to risk illegal entry into South Africa, rather than remaining at home. The crocodile infested river is just one of numerous dangers the border jumpers face. Untold numbers of men, women and children have fallen victim to criminal gangs who patrol the crossing points.

A Musina refugee shelter has previously said that at least three out of every 10 Zimbabwean women crossing into South Africa were gang raped in the process. Another relief group, Doctors Without Borders, meanwhile stated in 2012 that an average of 16 border jumpers were being raped and robbed every month.

Daniel Muzenda, the spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Migrants Association, said the documents required for a legal crossing into South Africa are far out of reach of the majority of Zimbabweans.

“The reasons why people are trying to cross illegally is because the documents to cross into South Africa legally are very expensive. A passport for a month is $53 and an emergency passport is over $300. So it’s very expensive,” Muzenda told SW Radio Africa.

He added: “But people can’t stay. There are serious economic hardships (in Zimbabwe), there are no jobs, so they want to go to South Africa because they assume there is economic stability and a high job market.”

He explained that there are better job opportunities for Zimbabweans in South Africa, which is a far cry from the reality they face back home. He said most Zimbabweans are “caught between a rock and a hard place,” because they need paying jobs to afford the documents to cross into South Africa, but there are no jobs back home.

In South Africa meanwhile, authorities have announced that work and study permit granted to Zimbabweans under the special dispensation period in 2010, will expire in November this year. The dispensation period was implemented specifically to give Zimbabwe nationals a chance to regularise their stay in South Africa, because so many were working in the country illegally. Although the numbers of Zimbabweans in South Africa is pegged at about two million people, only about 250,000 people were approved for four year work and study permits.

Muzenda explained that the new permit laws are a cause for real concern, because the authorities in South Africa have stated that new permits can only be applied for back in Zimbabwe. He said many people are concerned about returning to Zimbabwe, without a guarantee that they will get documents allowing them back into South Africa.

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4 Responsesto “17 ‘border jumpers’ found dead in Limpopo River”

  1. mike hondo says:

    People were once voting with their feet now they are voting with their lives, its a desperately sad situation, and we must put an end to this kind of thing.

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      Tell us how ‘we must put an end to this kind of thing’, my pikinini boy. This is so sad and laughable especially when it is being said by a Rhodie. Shedding crocodile tears by Rhodies used to work in the last century when your ancestors deceived, cheated and in the process stole land of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe but not anymore in this 21st century buddy. Our people now know you guys very well. Ok my pikinini?

      • SlapTheZanuMonkey says:

        Showing your true colours again Racist Baboon. Do you have any idea how racist your comment “pikinni” is? Of course not because you are an uneducated Zanu PF Zombie. I wish you could see how these comments of yours come across to everyone who reads these – maybe you would eventually shut up in embarrassment? But I doubt it because your skin is thicker than the the crocodile whose tears the Rhodies constantly shed. You are truly an imbecile and a waste of time.

        • Chimbwido Warvet says:

          Oh no no my gosh Aah, shut the fck up Rhodie. I am fully aware that you can not handle the truth. The term ‘pikinini’ was created by your ancestors that my people are now using to describe people like you, njuzu kana kuti madzimudzangara in my language. You can not blame them for using the word against you and other Rhodies.
          It is a decent colloquial word that we now often use in my mother tongue to describe individuals like you who are silly, stubborn and can not handle the truth. It used to be racist many years ago but we are now using it to our advantage to describe people of your ethnicity who are crude, foolish, idiotic, irrational and ludicrous. Ok my pikinini?

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