By Nqobile Tshili and Tendayi Kasamba
The South African government has suspended an immigration official and her three supervisors at the Beitbridge Border Post after a video of her scrolling her smart phone as Zimbabwean travellers waited to be served, went viral.
The video started circulating on social media networks on Tuesday attracting widespread criticism from Zimbabweans who shared their frustrations over delays at the South African entry point.
In the video, the immigration official is seen chatting and viewing pictures on smartphone while processing Zimbabwean travellers’ passports.
So engrossed on her smart phone, the immigration officer stamps one passport, opens another and stamps it before receiving a gate pass.
Instead of stamping the gate pass, the absent minded official opens the same passport and stamps it for the second time.
The Beitbridge Border Post is the busiest entry and exit point on the continent with nearly 19 000 people crossing daily during peak periods.
The protests against the immigration official were so widespread that they attracted the attention of South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Mr Malusi Gigaba who also posted the official’s video on his Twitter account.
In the video’s caption, Mr Gigaba said he had instructed the Home Affairs department to investigate the official.
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“I was this morning informed about the video circulating on social media platforms, and have asked the Department of @HomeAffairsSA to investigate this matter and take swift action against the official,” Mr Gigaba captioned the video.
In a statement later in the day, Home Affairs Director-General Mr Mkuseli Apleni said the official had been suspended as her actions were against the department’s work ethic policy.
“Of major concern to me is the fact that the official is dealing with security documents without paying attention to detail and rather preoccupied with her cellular phone. To this end, we have commenced with disciplinary measures against the official and the three supervisors,” Mr said Apleni.
Zimbabweans have in the past complained of ill treatment at the hands of South African immigration officials who deliberately delay serving them and sometimes harass them.
Cross-Border Traders’ Association president Dr Killer Zivhu said he was not shocked with the behaviour of the immigration official as it has become the order of the day at the border.
“This is not something new. That is what they always do. They chat in front of their clients whether verbally or on their phones, be it on WhatsApp or any other platform. They do this even when there are long queues of people waiting to be served,” said Dr Zivhu.
He said his association has engaged the Zimbabwean officials so that they could engage their
South African counterparts but the initiative has not yielded results.
Dr Zivhu said engagement at Ministerial level between the Zimbabwean officials and their South African counterparts could solve the problem.
Zimbabwe and South Africa are working on establishing a one-stop border post at Beitbridge as part of measures to improve efficiency. The Chronicle