Cross-border crime poses a significant challenge as we share borders with a number of neighbouring countries making ineffective border control a significant threat to peaceful co-existence with our neighbours. Human traffickers and their victims, drug dealers and many illegal firearms in the country have been smuggled through our porous borders.
There were high hopes for the new Border Management Authority, the BMA, to get a grip on the corruption, criminal syndicates and human traffickers, while maintaining smooth flow of people, goods and traffic, but it is not happening.
Just last week border posts were again experiencing serious congestion and delays which we hoped were a thing of the past.
Minister Motsoaledi reported that Customs delays cost about $48 million per annum to Southern African countries. He further said that trucks, in some instances, must wait for about 36 hours at the South African-Zimbabwe border, thereby endangering the lives of truck drivers because of criminals and human traffickers in the area.
By now the BMA should have implemented measures to improve traffic flow and border security, including increased surveillance, improved infrastructure, and the deployment of advanced technologies for detection and monitoring.
The ACDP is very concerned and wants to know why Home Affairs has not accepted the offer made by The Road Freight Association, to assist the Border Management Agency (BMA) to get freight moving swiftly and efficiently across borders.
South Africa has faced significant challenges in managing immigration, leading to notable failures in the immigration management system. One key issue is the high influx of undocumented migrants crossing our borders. Limited personnel, porous borders and corruption have contributed to this. Home Affairs frequently leaves tens of thousands of documented Zimbabweans hanging while waiting for visa extensions until the last minute, which the ACDP finds cruel and inefficient.
With the BMA fully established in April, by now, several changes should have been seen; steps should have been taken to address corruption within the border control agencies. Implementing rigorous anti-corruption measures, promoting transparency, and establishing mechanisms for reporting and investigating corruption cases are crucial for ensuring integrity and effectiveness within the BMA.
It is heartening that Border Guards have already recorded several successes since being deployed to safeguard South Africa’s borders, including recovering stolen vehicles and seizing drugs and guns.
Yet when it comes to human trafficking, it will take international cooperation and a comprehensive approach to stem this heinous crime. It requires law enforcement, victim support, and public awareness campaigns
It is good to hear that the BMA is forging relationships with farmers in the Lesotho border areas to address stock theft by Lesotho Syndicates. This leads not only to financial losses for the farmers but impacts on South African trade and community relations.
When fully established, the BMA should play a pivotal role in tackling uncoordinated traveller processing, cross-border criminality, illegal crossings and undue delays in the facilitation of movement of goods and services.”