Minister Siyabonga Cwele: Easter travel readiness and extension of operational hours at Ports of Entry

Welcome to this briefing which outlines Government’s plans to facilitate the ease of movement of people and goods through our border posts during the Easter season. The plans are a demonstration of coordination amongst Government departments and agencies and the strength of relations we enjoy with our neighbouring countries.

The Department of Home Affairs leads the coordination of border management activities through the Operations Task Team which include SA Police Service, SA Revenue Service, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Health, State Security Agency, SA National Defence Force and Border Management Authority Operations Task Team Members.

Each Easter and festive season, an operational plan is prepared to ease traveller movements because our ports of entry record higher numbers of traveller movements during these periods. During the Easter period, most of the movements are for tourism and religious purposes.

The plan also focuses dealing with security challenges and mitigating against illegal movements and transgressions during the period planned for.

In 2018, we recorded 1.2 million traveller movements during the Easter period. One in four travellers were South Africans. Most of these movements were recorded at:

OR Tambo International Airport, (204 946)

Beit Bridge, (142 009)

Lebombo, (122 782)

Ficksburg, (110 376)

Maseru Bridge, (97 247) and

Oshoek, (70 275)

The top five nationalities who travelled through our ports were from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique. Outside the region, the highest numbers came from the United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany.

Informed by these and other factors, the Department of Home Affairs and other relevant departments in the border environment, have prepared adequately for this period to assist in easing movement of people and goods in and out of the country. Accordingly, an integrated operational plan for port operations will be implemented from this coming Tuesday, 16 April 2019.

This operational plan aims to ensure that services are delivered at Ports of Entry where only legitimate people and goods are allowed to enter or depart the country. We aim for a secure port of entry where potential violators are deterred, threats and inadmissible people, goods and conveyances are intercepted, legitimate trade and travel are facilitated and operations and outcomes are consistent.

Additional details about operating hours are in the table below and will also be available on our website.

The Department of Home Affairs and other border law enforcement departments/agencies in South African ports of entry have finalised preparations for readiness of ports, including:

Extending operating hours at selected ports of entry across the country,

Installation of temporary infrastructure to help with the faster processing of travellers

Increasing capacity of staff deployed at our ports of entry, for example the Department of Home Affairs is deploying additional 237 staff members at selected ports and the Department of Health deploying three additional staff at Beit Bridge

All departments and agencies have provided for officials at ports to work overtime in order to deal with the expected increase in traveller movement and to avoid congestion.

In addition to the agencies, the Department of Environmental Affairs will be focusing on assisting our efforts by securing Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy by conducting

inspections and investigations on harbours,

launching pads and slipways,

Yacht basins and smaller fishing harbours

Rummaging of vessels

Oil pollution

Stakeholders at ports of entry and countries sharing borders with South Africa have been engaged and have agreed on the dates to effect the extended operational hours.

The Lebombo Border Post between SA and Mozambique will operate for 24 hours from 17 to 29 April 2019. While the Oshoek Border Post between SA and Swaziland will operate for 24 hours from 18 to 21 April 2019. Other busy border posts will have extended operating hours of between one and six hours.

Port managers will ensure that the extension of hours in their respective operational plans is enforced within the broader approved times.

The Department appeals to members of the public who are planning to travel through the ports to comply with all the respective legislation. Some travellers experience unnecessary delays that result in congestion at the ports because they do not confirm requirements prior to travel. Prospective travellers can contact our immigration officials to confirm the documents required for their travel.

Update on travel regulations

Following agreement with all relevant stakeholders, on 13 March 2019 the Department updated its website advisory on travel regulations, to clarify the documents required by children travelling through our ports.

The requirements for visa exempt children from foreign countries are:

A birth certificate would not be required when travelling with both parents. However, when a parent and the child have different surnames, carrying proof of the parental relationship is advised.

Where only one parent is travelling with a child, (or children), each child has to produce a valid passport, and may be required to produce a Birth Certificate or equivalent document and a Parental Consent letter and certified ID copy from the non-travelling parent whose details are recorded on the Birth Certificate.

When a person is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child for example a teacher/grandparents, such child must produce a valid passport, and may be required to produce a Birth Certificate, Parental Consent letter and the certified copies of the parents or adoption order when requested to do so by an Immigration Officer.

Where a Parental Consent letter is presented, full contact details and copies of the certified identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian/s of the child may also be requested by an Immigration Officer.

Should the documents not be available on request, travellers would be granted a 24-hour period to obtain the documents required.

One of the following documents may be presented in the absence of a Parental Consent letter referred to above:

A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship of the child exclusively to the travelling parent;

A court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2015, (Act No. 38 of 2005) which is a court order granting permission for the child to travel in the event that there is a dispute or no consent forthcoming from the parent/s of a child; or

A death certificate of the deceased parent.

Requirements for South African and visa required children remain unchanged as well as those for unaccompanied minors and children in alternative care. Foreign children who apply for a South African visa at any mission or VFS service point shall submit required documents as part of the application process, prior to such visa being issued.

The success of port operations during peak periods, including Easter, is in the interest of the country as a whole as it reinforces all efforts aimed at easing travel and promoting tourism.

Issued by the Department of Home Affairs on 10th April 2019

Source: Government of South Africa