The newly established Border Management Authority (BMA) has intercepted nearly 44 000 people trying to illegally enter South Africa, arrested over 2 000 for various crimes, and seized stolen vehicles and drugs, amongst other successes.
This according to the BMA Commissioner Dr Michael Masiapato, who was addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday. Giving an overview of key successes since the pre- and post-transitional period of April 2023, the BMA said it has intercepted more than 44 000 individuals attempting to illegally enter South Africa, and they have been arrested, fingerprinted, declared undesirable and deported.
“Further, about 100 452 individuals overstayed in the country. We got the hit from our movement control system when they arrived at the ports. We then declared them undesirable, and we banned them from entering South Africa for the next five years,” Masiapato said.
“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 in the world,” he added.
Other BMA achievements highlighted are the arrest of more than 2 200 people for various crimes around the ports of entry; the detection of 279 stolen vehicles as criminals tried to take them out of South Africa; the detection and interception of 396 blasting cartridges commonly used during cash in transit robberies; the interception of 641 kg of dagga at the eSwatini and Lesotho borders; and the interception of 8.1 kg of the date rape drug Rohypnol.
“This is a summary of some of the key success of the [BMA] 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,” Masiapato said.
A notable BMA success was a joint sting operation between the Border Management Authority, Home Affairs and the South African Police Service, which stopped more than 40 buses travelling into South Africa through the Beitbridge Border Post carrying children who are alleged to have been trafficked.
“They were able to stop and search about 42 buses trying to enter the Republic and out of that we found about 443 children under the age of eight that were in those buses without any parent or any guardian. Fairly, they were being trafficked into South Africa. We were able to take them out of those buses. We were then able to engage with the Zimbabwean officials and we handed them back to Zimbabwe for processing back into the country,” Masiapato said.
The BMA is heightening operations as the festive season begins, and this includes longer border post operating times and more boots on the ground – the BMA expects at least six million people to move through South Africa’s borders during the festive season.
Masiapato said the BMA has engaged with South Africa’s six immediate neighbouring countries on the “synchronisation of processes and other work modalities” including working hours.
“While some of our busiest ports already operate on a 24-hour basis, the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has already approved our request to extend the operating hours on other identified critical ports on certain dates that we agreed with our immediate neighbouring countries,” he said.
“In addition, we will be deploying about 380 additional personnel at the selected busiest ports of entry to assist with the delivery of services and provision of technical support during this period. There are also a number of senior members from the Border Technical Committee (BTC) who have been allocated individual ports for their visitation during the identified critical dates to provide support to the operational teams on the ground,” he said.