Monday, December 04, 2023

Have the necessary documents when crossing or entering SA, says BMA

With the festive season upon us period, many will cross the South African borders to enjoy a bit of time off.

The Border Management Authority, is a newly established public entity which officially started operating in April this year, after integrating a number of staff complement from the four government departments of Home Affairs, Agriculture, Health, and the Environment who have been operating at SA’s ports of entry.

The BMA took responsibility for the management of all border activities across the three modalities of land, maritime and air

The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Dr Michael Masiapato and border law enforcement operations briefed the media on Sunday, where they outlined the festive season control measures at the borders. The briefing also mentioned key requirements for travelers when entering and exiting the Republic of South Africa.

PHOTO - X: @TheBMA_SA - Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Dr Michael Masiapato


Masiapato reflected on pre-COVID numbers, to see how the BMA recovered after the pandemic. He said 1.2 million people visited the country during COVID-19 restrictions, in the 2020/21 financial year. That number increased by 2021/22 period to 1.6 million people. Then last year in 2022/2023 festive period, they saw   about 4 million people, entered SA borders

So, in this festive period of 2023/24, we anticipate a full recovery to the pre-Covid average number of about 6 million people moving through our ports in this festive period. Over the years, our top ten ports of entry which facilitate the majority of the people has always been OR Tambo International, Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Ficksburg, Maseru Bridge, Cape Town International, Oshoek, Kopfontein, Caledonspoort and Groblers Bridge. Therefore, during the development of our plan these realities were taken into consideration especially regarding the need for the deployment of additional human resources.

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed the operating hours at the country’s ports will be extended, during the festive period. These include ports in Botswana Mozambique eSwatini and Lesotho. Some Whilst ports already operate on a 24-hour basis.

Masiapato says a special focus will be on curbing illegal movement of persons and goods

We have put all measures in place to detect and confiscate narcotics, contraband, illicit goods, and even stolen vehicles. We therefore want to urge all travellers to desist from committing any act of criminality as they will be detected, arrested, declared undesirable, and then deported. 

BMA commissioner urged drivers to desist from disregarding existing traffic laws, including instructions from the traffic officers on the ground as that has the potential, says Masiapato, to cause traffic jams which poses serious challenges of traffic flow towards the country’s ports entry.

This has been our common problem in this period particular on the N1 towards Beit Bridge border post to Zimbabwe and also on the N4 towards Lebombo border post to Mozambique. Therefore, drivers are encouraged to accordingly follow the que and in no time, they would be assisted.

On Port Health matters, and masiapato emphasised that all arriving travelers must expect to be screened on their arrival at the port of entry, and have the correct documentation, whether for yellow fever, carrying human remains, etc.

The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Dr Michael Masiapato, says the challenge the BMA experiences over the years is during the return leg, as some travelers, he says, avoid presenting themselves at the designated port of entry and instead decide to illegally enter the country through the borderline

‘’During the return leg of the 2022/23 festive period, we noted instances where some Zimbabweans moved into Botswana and attempted to illegally entered South Africa through the RSA-Botswana borderline in an attempt to avoid interception by the deployed Border Guards in the vulnerable segments of RSA-Zimbabwe borderline. As such, we would like to send a stern warning to all individuals who are planning to illegally enter South Africa through the borderline as the Border Guards, working with members of the SANDF will be waiting for them on the borderline. Further, the BMA would also like to discourage officials from facilitating the illegitimate movement of people and goods through our ports of entry. We have adopted a zero tolerance on corrupt tendencies amongst officials. Up to this point, we are investigating about 18 cases of misconduct perpetrated by our officials and about 8 officials have been sanctioned for dismissal thus far. Considering the expected high volumes in this festive period, we would like to appeal to travellers to consider using less busy ports of entry where possible, for instance, the travellers going to Mozambique can consider using Mananga port of entry rather than Lebombo since both ports carry almost the same exact distance to Maputo City.’’

In terms of successes of the Border Management Authority, and Masiapato said about 44 461 individuals who were attempting to illegally enter South Africa without any requisite documentation, were arrested and deported. Furthermore, more than 100 000 individuals overstayed in the country. They are said to be banned from south Africa for the next 5 years.

Masiapao added that about 98 150 individuals were refused entry into the country for various reasons. Some of them were criminal elements who are listed on the Interpol list for having committed different types of crimes in other jurisdictions of the world.

The Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Dr Michael Masiapato, said a sting operation was conducted on Saturday, 2 December, whereby various enforcements searched 42 buses at the Beit Bridge border post and found about 443 children under the age of 8 who were travelling without parents or guardians being trafficked into South Africa. He said they were denied entry and were processed t back into Zimbabwe.

‘’This is the summary of some of the key successes of the Border Management Authority having been realised in a short space of time. We however commit to do more and fully address the country’s perennial problem of ‘porous borders’ as pronounced.’’

‘’Lastly, we noted the policy decision of the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to extend both the Lesotho and Zimbabwe Exemption Permits to 2025, we will however await an official Directive on the matter from the DG of Home Affairs, Mr Tommy Makhode for our implementation,’’ said Dr Michael Masiapato, the Commissioner of the Border Management Authority.

 

Done By: Mitchum George

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