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Minister Aaron Motsoaledi: Border Management Authority Bill and Home Affairs capacity during festive season

11 Feb 2020

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, at the media briefing on progress on the Border Management Authority and the impact of increased capacity during the 2019/20 festive season and 2-10 January extended hours

Good afternoon, and welcome.

Thank you very much for joining us on this historic and storied day. On this day, 30 years ago, not too far from here, our beloved Tata Nelson Mandela took his first steps as a free man after serving 27 years in prison for fighting for the dignity of all people in our land.

Those first steps have led us to where we find ourselves today as President Cyril Ramaphosa has assumed the Chairship of the African Union. He has said he will work towards silencing the guns on the continent and encouraging more public private partnerships to help advance our society.

Addressing the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee Meeting of the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, President Ramaphosa said the Beit Bridge Border Post connecting South Africa and Zimbabwe together with related road and rail infrastructure, is one of the projects which have been shortlisted to be fast-tracked.

This commitment galvanises us to move with speed in meeting our mandate of facilitating economic growth in a manner which does not compromise our national security.

Development of Land Ports of Entry

The Beit Bridge Border Post is one of six large land ports of entry which we have identified for infrastructure development. These land ports of entry have high traveller and trade volumes. It is important to develop these ports of entry to reflect our commitment to easing the movement of people and goods through the ports.

The ports will be developed in partnership with the private sector through public private partnerships and with our neighbouring countries. The partnership with our neighbouring countries centres on creating One Stop Border Posts (OSBP).

This model means that people and trucks will be processed by both countries under one roof. When we move over to this model, people and trucks will only stop once at a border and be processed by both countries. We are pursuing the OSBP in association with other government agencies.

Just this past Friday, I had a fruitful meeting at the Kopfontein border post with my counterpart from Botswana on the One Stop Border Post and other immigration issues of mutual interest. I have already held successful meetings at our various border posts with my counterparts from the Kingdom of Eswatini (Oshoek border post), Lesotho (Maseru border\post) and Mozambique (Lebombo border post).

The Master Plan for the development of Beit Bridge has been finalised and we are in the process of appointing a service provider. The service provider will come from one of the five consortia which were approved in 2018.

These consortia are made up of construction companies and related professional services such as engineering firms. After that, the Department will finalise the contracting arrangements before construction starts.  This Development will be funded on the basis of a 20 year concessionaire.

When we implement the Border Management Authority in phases, we will prioritize Beit Bridge as one of the areas where we will start implementation.  Hence, Beit Bridge shall have two programmes running more or less at the same time, that is, the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) and Border Management Authority (BMA).

The BMA is a cog in our social, political and commercial interaction with our neighbors.

I am pleased that last week the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs deliberated on the amendments which were made by the National Council of Provinces when it passed the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill in December 2019. What is now left is for the National Assembly to consider the amendments made and process the Bill further.

The proposed BMA legislation will provide for the establishment, organisation, regulation, functions and control of the BMA.

Whenever we mention border control in the form of an instrument like the BMA many people, unfortunately, immediately associate it with solely a mechanism to stop people from coming to the country.

It is important for us as a country to keep on reminding ourselves that there are common security issues worldwide in border control. These are common to all countries regardless of their differences in immigration policies.

These are: 

  • Criminal acts
  • Technical violations, this is, violation of domestic laws of countries
  • Transnational organised crime
  • Terrorist threats (not freedom fighter threats as was the case in SA in the past)
  • Human trafficking
  • Destruction of trade between countries through counterfeit goods, smuggling and transportation of hijacked vehicles and related activities.

Among other functions, the BMA will facilitate and manage legitimate movement of persons within the border law enforcement area and at ports of entry.

It is our considered view that the BMA will improve service efficiencies at the ports, through integrated operations. It will improve the way South Africa handles border management thus to assist the country in delivering on regional mechanisms vital for the envisaged integration and free trade area for our beloved continent – Africa.

The department is looking at incremental establishment and rollout of the BMA to designated ports of entry and key segments of the land borderline. These ports include Oshoek, Lebombo, OR Tambo International Airport and the Port of Cape Town.

The BMA PMO has also developed a deployment plan for border guards which will stop people from illegally crossing into South Africa through the borderline. This deployment focuses on the hotspots which have already been identified.

Festive season operations 

The festive season ranks among the peak periods exerting additional strain on resources while posing security risks for South Africa and the six countries with which it shares borders. Statistics on traveler movement are an important indicator of how busy our ports are and how efficient we process movements at our 72 ports.

For the 2019/20 festive season, we planned ports and borderline activities with other law enforcement agencies and partners from neighboring countries.  As a result, border law enforcement departments and agencies completed a successful 2019/20 festive period operations, with very few incidents reported. Home Affairs had deployed 404 additional staff from 03 December 2019 to 08 January 2020, to support smooth facilitation of movement of people and goods during this period.

Traveller movements recorded 

In the 2019/20 festive period, we recorded a total of 6 585 617 traveler movements across all our ports of entry. This was marginally lower when compared to the 6 645 630 traveler movements we cleared in the 2018/19 festive period.

The highest daily movements recorded during this period were the following:

  • Beit Bridge with 35 750 on 05 January 2020,
  • OR Tambo International Airport with 33 028 on 3 January 2020,
  • Lebombo with 25 901 both on 5 January 2020,
  • Ficksburg with 20 728 movements, on 23 December 2019,
  • Maseru Bridge with 19 794 movements recorded on 21 December 2019, and
  • Cape Town International Airport with 11 649 on 3 January 2020.
     

Top nationalities cleared at our ports of entry over this period were from Zimbabwe (594 350), Lesotho (570 684), Mozambique (293 426), Eswatini (226 662), Botswana (191 025), United Kingdom (83 772), United States of America (50 985), Germany (52 534), Namibia (36 116)    and Malawi (30 664).

Refusals

From 1 December 2019 to 13 January 2020, a total of 10 362 travelers were refused movement during arrival or departure. The main reasons for refused movements during arrival and departure include travelers on our risk engine (those involving lost and stolen passports and travelers previously declared undesirable), expired passports, insufficient documentation and fraudulent documentation.

Top 10 ports of entry accounting for 9 344 refusals were: Beit Bridge (with Zimbabwe with 2 433 refusals); Lebombo (with Mozambique with 2 168); Maseru Bridge ( with Lesotho with 1 524); Fickburg (with Lesotho with 1 325); OR Tambo (787); Oshoek  (with Swaziland with 380); Groblersbruge (with Botswana with 212); Van Rooyens Gate (with Lesotho with 208); Caledonspoort (with Lesotho with 180) and Tele Bridge (with Lesotho with 127).

During this period the total number of travelers who were declared undesirable due to over staying the period permitted on their visa is 18 127.  Top 10 ports of entry accounting for (87%) travelers declared undesirable, due to overstaying, were: Maseru Bridge (3 515), Ficksburg (3 123), Beit Bridge (2 656), OR Tambo International Airport (2 524), Lebombo (1 422), Tele Bridge (762), Caledonspoort (557), Cape Town International Airport (458), Oshoek (423) and Van Rooyens Gate (369).

Border Law Enforcement

One of the lessons of the 2019/20 festive season operations is that illegal migration resulting in undocumented migrants remains a serious challenge. In this regard, a joint approach, collaboration and integrated operations with government departments and agencies proved their efficacy and thus pointed to the urgency of setting up a Border Management Authority.

I thank travelers for their conduct during this period and officials across government departments and agencies for diligence, efficiency and professionalism. We will continue ensuring only legitimate people and goods are allowed to enter or depart.

Extended operating hours at front offices

We had focused resources also on broadening services we provide to the people as a custodian of identity and citizenship. What we had observed is that our offices receive higher volumes of citizens after the New Year celebrations and at the start of the school year. Learning from this observation, we had then extended operating hours at our offices from 02 to 10 January 2020 nationwide.

Our offices provided services to citizens and other clients from 16h00 in the afternoon to 19h00 in the evening in addition to official working hours, of 08h00 to 16h00. Some offices operated even beyond 19h00.

Extending office hours benefitted citizens who were looking for enabling documents with which to enrol new learners in schools, to register high school learners for the 2020 matric examinations and to find places for students at institutions of higher learning.  Overall, operations went very well.

Benefit for citizens

During the extended hours, 249 930 citizens visited Home Affairs offices and received services. In the main, our analysis showed that citizens made use of this opportunity to apply for and collect their smart ID cards and passports. The total number of applications received and documents collected showed an increase, compared with same period in 2019.

Applications for smart ID cards and passports were 145 393 against 82 383 in the same period last year – a 57% increase. As far as collections for smart ID cards and passports are concerned, the number was 67 380, compared with 29 137 in same period last year – a 43% increase. During the extended hours period, we handed over 55 749 smart ID cards to citizens.  However, there is still a high number of uncollected identity documents in offices.

Since inception of the smart ID card, in 2013, we have close to 400 000 uncollected IDs. Our process of application for a first time applicant requires the presence of a parent. We are aware that often working parents are unable to visit our offices during working hours. We had therefore made a clarion call to all who are unable to visit offices during normal working hours to make use of extended operating hours to apply for and collect enabling documents.

Accordingly, we welcome the positive response from citizens; and have again extended operating hours, for the period 3 to 28 February 2020. For this period, only 194 Home Affairs offices which can process applications for smart ID cards and passports are serving people from 08h00 to 19h00. It is our sharp resolve to continue, consciously, to improve on efficiency, effectiveness, service quality and professional conduct at all of our service-points, be it in citizen affairs or immigration.

[The table below offers a breakdown, per province, of ID and Travel Document applications and collections over the period 2 to 10 January 2020]:

 

PROVINCE

SMART ID CARD, GREEN ID BOOK & TRAVEL DOCUMENT APPLICATIONS

COLLECTIONS

Eastern Cape

11 867

5 383

Free State

8 668

4 013

Gauteng

39 505

19 142

KwaZulu-Natal

25 635

12 471

Limpopo

16 474

7 289

Mpumalanga

11 805

5 236

Northern Cape

9 457

4 123

North West

5 159

2 307

Western Cape

16 823

7 416

TOTAL

145 393

67 380

 

Allow me to extend a word of appreciation to all our hardworking staff who often go beyond the call of duty to serve our citizens. I am disappointed that there are some staff members who are giving the department a bad name by being involved in acts of malfeasance. We shall work with law enforcement agencies to root out these corrupt elements from within our ranks.

Media enquiries:
Siya Qoza
Cell: 082 898 1657 (spokesperson for the Minister of Home Affairs)

David Hlabane
Cell: 071 342 4284 (Media manager for the Department of Home Affairs)

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