Africa: How Zimbabweans Risk Life and Limb to Cross Into South Africa

Jumping into a swimming pool is an insurmountable task for many — but Sithembile Moyo (34)* dares crocodiles and other dangerous reptiles found in the Limpopo River at least four times a month as she illegally crosses into South Africa in search of a better life.

For 10 years, Moyo, who hails from Beitbridge, has risked her life to cross the crocodile-infested river at least twice after every fortnight so that she could feed, clothe and send her three sons to school.

“What can I do for my family? Do you want them to die because I was afraid of a crocodile? I have a duty to take care of them, even if it means risking my life, let it be,” Moyo told The Standard news crew in Beitbridge last week shortly after crossing the Limpopo River from South Africa. She goes to work at a farm that has become popular with illegal immigrants.

She met the news crew on the banks of the river with her luggage which she was to carry for more 10km to the nearest bus stop.

“I have seen colleagues die in this river. Some drowned while others were attacked by crocodiles,” she said.

“But the question is: should I watch my children die of hunger when I can afford to cross the river? This is a matter of survival,” she narrates.

“We are used to this life. Every weekend I come home and on Monday I will be here again, in this water crossing back to South Africa where I work.

“I have seen a lot of things happening here, but the grace of God has kept me going.”

Early this year, Moyo witnessed six people drown after a heavy flood hit them while in the middle of the river.

The person whom they had paid to assist them cross the river was able to swim through the flood and survived.

“I have many friends who have failed to make it across the river because of many factors,” Moyo added.

“Some just collapse along the way, while others are hit by big logs and fall into the water. Some are killed by crocodiles.”