Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Malusi Gigaba, MP, on the readiness for 2018 Easter operations in the South African border environment
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
Today we present the readiness of Border Law Enforcement departments; Agencies/Entities for the 2018 Easter Operations in the border environment that are to be executed in the next few weeks. Planning for the 2018 Easter period commenced immediately after the close up of 2017/18 Festive Season Border Security operations. The 2017/18 Festive Season Operation was completed seamlessly as most security challenges that required immediate attention were swiftly attended to. The additional staff that was availed to the ports contributed significantly in expediting processing of human and goods movement at our Ports of Entry. We can make a bold statement to say these operations were characterised by high levels of professionalism and efficiency. On the whole, I am very grateful for the excellent work done by our dedicated border officials � across departments in partnership with their colleagues from local governments and provinces.
During peak periods, such as Easter and the end of the year, a high volume of people move through our ports and this movement presents a number of security risks and dynamics. It is demonstrated by the following security dynamics and risks:
Fraudulent or Illegal Stamping of Travel documents by corrupt border officials
The exploitation and manipulation of border systems and business processes.
The facilitation of illegal entry of persons and goods perpetuates other security-related risks such as cross-border organised crime, illegal migration and social instability.
In this regard, the border environment remains vulnerable in terms of civilians and officials who facilitate the illegal and unauthorised movement of persons and goods. We therefore appeal to our clients not to get involved in any of the transgressions and therefore request that no services at any Ports of Entry should be paid for.
Before the 2016/17 festive period, South Africa had beefed-up security by rolling out biometrics at selected ports and is continuing. This is a milestone in managing immigration for development while guaranteeing safety and security of citizens and clients.
Maintaining sound stakeholder relations in the border environment is essential for successful border operations. The value of an integrated approach to border operations as set out for the planned Border Management Authority underlines this notion. The following incident where a number of government departments and entities were involved further supports this view.
It is inevitable that during the peak season other travellers attempt to cross the borders making use of fraudulently obtained travelling documents. The deployment of Intelligence members and DHA Inspectorate at major ports of entry led to discovery of 29 fraudulently obtained RSA passports, 7 fraudulently obtained RSA birth certificates, 2 fraudulent RSA Identity document, 13 fraudulent Lesotho passports and 3 fake Immigration stamps which were used by a Zimbabwean national at Beitbridge to facilitate illegal movement of travellers across the border. It is also known that there are taxi drivers who arrive at the ports with bulk of passports, which are facilitated illegally in order to extend the days of the passports owners in the country.
A total of 13 320 undocumented travellers reported to Ports of Entry during the 2017/18 Festive Season attempting to cross and the breakdown is as follows (4820 Mozambicans, 4126 Basotho, 4301 Zimbabweans, 18 Batswana, 16 Swazis, 10 Pakistani, 7 South Africans, 7 Tanzanians, 6 Burundians, 3 Malawians, 3 Zambians, 2 Bangladeshi and 1 Ugandan). Amongst the port users who attempted to cross the borders, 4559 migrants were found to either be in possession of sufficient travelling documents to cross the borders of RSA and/ or had outstanding penalties and some were attempting to enter the country even though they were prohibited to do so until such time that their undesirable period elapses (declared undesirable previously), such travellers were refused movement across the borders. Top 5 nationals declared undesirable were Zimbabweans (2907), Mozambicans (483), Basotho (443), South Africans (377) and Swazis (85). Furthermore 3063 travellers found to have overstayed in the country were declared undesirable for periods ranging between 1 and 5 years by DHA.
SAPS Border Police officials ensured that port officials operate in safe and secured environment with a total of 1796 regular patrols were conducted in and around the ports. SAPS members furthermore ensured that suspects wanted in connection with various criminal activities committed within the country are detected and dealt with in accordance to the prescripts of the law.
Revenue collection on import and export goods, control goods categorised as P & R goods and deter intellectual property. Customs recorded numerous successes and collected revenue amounting to R1 700 928.51 from penalties imposed.
Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Inspection Services Directorate is entrusted in safeguarding the country against foreign pests and diseases. During joint interventions at the ports,20 271.19kg, 360.7 Litres and 517 units of plants, plant products, animals and animal products of non-complying regulated agricultural, were detected, confiscated and destroyed by DAFF officials. DAFF Fisheries branch in conjunction with SAPS continued conducting vessel patrols around the harbours to detect those engaging in illegal fishing and poaching of living marine resources.
Port Health Inspections
Services by Port Health officials within the National Department of Health managed to screen a total of 142 390 travellers for infectious diseases and confiscated 7136 birth control pills, 2346 bottles of medicaments, 198 cosmetics, 528 insecticides, 24 packets of Viagra tablets, 78 packets of blister ointment, 3 tubs of Vaseline petroleum jelly, 50 home-made bar soaps and refused 74 human remains and 17 consignments entry due to non-compliance.
Illegal migration and smuggling activities across the land borderline often take place in close proximity to designated Ports of Entry. The fence is cut to enable illegal movements across the borderline. The deployment of SANDF along the borderline assisted in safeguarding the country against illegal and irregular migratory movements. Interventions by the SANDF and SAPS Border Police officials eliminated the challenges and led to apprehension of majority of undocumented Lesotho nationals. A total of 2119 undocumented migrants (1865 Mozambicans, 237 Zimbabweans, 13 Swazis, 3 Batswana and 1 Zambian) were apprehended by SANDF members along the borderline at Lebombo (1865), Groblersbrug (111), Beitbridge (127), Swartkopfontein (7), Mahamba (6), Ramatlabama (2) and Oshoek (1). Furthermore confiscated 3.046kg of abandoned dagga and 98 600 worth of fake notes which were handed over to SAPS.
Officials from the Local Municipal and National Traffic formed part of the ports operations and played a vital role of ensuring that traffic leading to the major ports of entry does not congest the entrance and exit gates of the ports and all road users adhere to traffic regulations.
The 2017/18 festive season operation was executed successfully and proficiently, thus allowing for a sound base for preparing for the next operation � Easter 2018.
Readiness for 2018 Easter Operations
Historical data on operations conducted during peak seasons in the border environment reflect the need to extend operational hours at ports of entry to cater for the upsurge in traveller movements. I have therefore approved the extension of operational hours for selected ports of entry experiencing significant increase in movement volumes during peak periods. A full report on traveller statistics for the past four (4) Easter seasons is attached.
The extension of operational hours at ports of entry commenced yesterday, 27th of March and will run until 06th of April 2018.
Stakeholders at ports of entry and the countries sharing borders with the Republic of South Africa have been engaged and agreed on the dates to effect the extended operational hours. (See attached Annexure A � a list of selected ports where hours are to be extended are attached).
The increased movement of travellers further requires that Ports of Entry are fully capacitated. This therefore makes it imperative for ports to be well-prepared at all times to execute and facilitate traveller movement, and, importantly, also to mitigate illegal movements and transgressions. The upsurge in traveller and vehicular movements puts a strain on limited resources at the ports of entry. This means that additional human resources must be deployed as requested to ensure reasonable turnaround times and avoid congestions at ports. All stakeholders in the border environment are mobilizing resources to address the shortage by either deployment of additional staff or provide overtime.
The Department of Home Affairs as the lead department in the border environment has reaffirmed its commitment to reclaim and reassert state authority in the country, in terms of which South Africa’s borders must be effectively safeguarded and secured.
Source: Government of South Africa