World Cup Brings New Document Scanning Technology to Beitbridge

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The World Cup has brought security improvements to the Beitbridge border post, with Zimbabwean authorities introducing a new scanning system to weed out suspicious travel documents.

This is the first time that computers have been used at Beitbridge, South Africa's biggest gateway to the north and one of its most vulnerable border posts. The move came after South Africa banned single-sheet travel documents as a security risk ahead of the World Cup.

The Department of Home Affairs said last month that single-sheet travel certificates were prone to abuse, and while they were issued within the region often turned up in the hands of asylum seekers from as far afield as Pakistan and China. However, the department appeared to compromise when it announced that Zimbabwe would introduce a new form of scannable travel document in booklet form.

Last month, Zimbabwean authorities arrested two Pakistani citizens heading for SA who were allegedly travelling on fake documents. One of them was alleged to have been on the Interpol list as a suspected terrorist.

Despite computerisation at Beitbridge, Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald newspaper said on Tuesday that the new system had led to delays at the border, as many travellers did not have machine-readable documents.

Home affairs did not want to commenlast week. But last week, deputy minister Malusi Gigaba said it was up to South Africa's neighbours to provide their citizens with the proper documents to facilitate travel and guarantee their safety and security.