South Africa re-opens its land borders as virus cases decline

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa has re-opened its major land borders with neighbouring countries after closing them last month to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

At least 20 border posts re-opened yesterday, with officials saying steps will be taken to avoid tightly-packed crowds of travellers gathering at the immigration posts which would spread the virus.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who inspected the re-opening of the Lebombo border post with Mozambique yesterday, said South Africa is working with neighbouring countries to ensure simpler movements of people.

Other border posts re-opened include the Beitbridge border post with Zimbabwe and crossing points with Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland).

Before the borders were closed in January, there were reports of problems at the immigration offices, including travellers using fake COVID-19 tests.

“We appeal to travellers to ensure that they have all the requisite travel documents, including valid COVID-19 tests, when they present themselves to officials at our borders,” said Motsoaledi.

Anyone caught at a border post with a fake COVID-19 certificate will be barred from visiting South Africa for a period of at least five years, Motsoaledi said.