Travellers will no longer be allowed to use cell phones within immigration halls following the leak of a video showing a female immigration officer scrolling through her smartphone, instead of clearing travellers at a border post in South Africa.
“They (immigration officers) are always suspicious of people using smartphones inside the immigration hall and hence the ban,” a source told local media The Herald.
The ban on the mobile phone usage which took effect from Wednesday, March 28 has since been communicated through notices at all immigration service points at the Beitbridge Border Post.
Home Affairs spokesperson Mr Mayihlome Tshwete who confirmed the development said: “This is an existing policy which we had to reiterate following recent events.
“We advise travellers not to hesitate to bring their complaints to our attention as and when they arise.
“The case of the female immigration officer is being dealt with through an internal disciplinary hearing,” he was quoted by The Herald.
The female officer who had devoted her time to her smartphone while Zimbabwean travellers waited to be served at the border post has since been suspended along with three supervisors.
The Beitbridge Border Post has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons as travellers complain of long queues, corruption and inadequate staff. Reports say some travellers take up to three hours to enter or leave South Africa and less than 10 minutes on the Zimbabwean side of the border.
For these travellers, the ban on cellphone use is only to stop them from collecting evidence against inefficient officials.
Ms Andile Dube, a traveller believes instead of banning the use of cellphones, authorities must encourage South Africans to change their attitude towards work.
“They need to address the real issues rather than majoring on minor issues,” she said.
Over 25 South African border authorities between May 2016 and January this year in Limpopo Province have been arrested on charges of fraud and corruption.