BY SILAS NKALA
BORDER jumpers crossing into South Africa face tough times ahead as the South African government has deployed more security personnel along the border area.
In a statement last Friday, South Africa’s Home Affairs department said there was an influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe using illegal crossing points.
High volumes of Zimbabweans have been leaving the country due to economic hardships, while others smuggle goods between the two countries.
Due to the high number of illegal immigrants, the Pretoria government has been urged to reconsider re-introduction of the Zimbabwe Exemption permits (ZEP), which expired on December 31, 2021.
In a statement, SA Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said: “The ministry is scheduled to unveil the first 200 cohorts of the BMA (Border Management Authority) border guards. The newly recruited members of the Border Guard will be welcomed at the deployment ceremony to be held at the Beitbridge Port of Entry in Musina, Limpopo on Thursday (July 14, 2022), at 10am.
“The highlights of the day will include the pass-out parade of the newly-recruited members of the Border Guard, who were carefully selected and trained, with focus on fitness and physical assessment. Whilst the broader integration process is underway, this cohort will be statically deployed at the identified five vulnerable segments of the borderline, working together with members of the South African National Defence Force.”
The BMA, which is South Africa’s new, single authority for border management with a single command and control, was established through the Border Management Authority Act of 2020.
“It will be fully established on April 1, 2023 through the integration of five streams of functions performed by various government departments — Home Affairs; Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and Health. This includes access control functions conducted by members of the SA Police Service in the ports of entry.
“The authority will tighten border management by implementing an integrated and coordinated approach in the border management environment. This is an improvement on the previous multi-agency approach comprising multiple authorities with different mandates.”
When fully established, BMA will play a pivotal role in tackling border security challenges impacting on SA and its neighbours, such as uncoordinated traveller processing, cross-border criminality, illegal crossings and undue delays in the facilitation of movement of goods and services.
The BMA model will also pave way for the creation of smart border posts and systems and advance trade facilitation in the region.
“The deployment ceremony will create an opportunity for the minister and the BMA commissioner to share updates on progress and next steps in the phased establishment of this authority, including on how the border guards will be deployed to begin to tighten border management in identified ports of entry and in vulnerable segments along the borderline,” the statement added.
South Africa is currently home to an estimated three million Zimbabweans, the bulk of them being undocumented immigrants.