There was chaos at the Beitbridge Border Post on Monday as hundreds of Zimbabwean cross-border traders desperately tried to leave South Africa before a national shutdown led by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), reported NewsDay.
The EFF led by Julius Malema called for a national shutdown on 20 March to force South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down, accusing him of corruption.
The protesters were also demanding the restoration of electricity and an end to load shedding.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy secretary-general Wisbon Malaya told NewsDay that hundreds of Zimbabwean cross-border traders had their goods confiscated by South African police. Said Malaya:
Actually, I am on my way from South Africa. On Friday, I witnessed the Gauteng Police arresting and confiscating the goods of street traders that are not South Africans.
On Sunday, several cross-border traders tried to come back home in a rush before the protests causing chaos at the border.
Thousands of goods such as blankets, carpets, cooking oil, yogurt, and other dairy and poultry products were confiscated.
I witnessed poor women and cross-border traders looking hopeless at the border.
One old lady fainted at the border after a load of her onions was confiscated.
There is a need to educate cross-border traders about what is allowed and not allowed at the border post, as well as how to register to trade commercially in order to operate safely.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) executive director Samuel Wadzai said the situation in South Africa is worrisome. He said:
The prevailing situation is worrying. We have seen the deployment of the military in SA, and this will severely affect cross-border traders’ ability to trade in the neighbouring country.