Fledgling BMA undertakes first ops


The latest addition to South Africa’s bureaucracy which targets border security used the 2021 year-end break to launch operations – albeit on a limited basis.

Apart from being reported by SABC News as saying measures were in place to ensure “smooth operations” at all ports of entry with neighbouring countries, there has been no public word from Border Management Authority (BMA) commissioner Mike Masiapato.

The Parliamentary committee tasked with oversight of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), where the BMA will be a branch until 31 March 2023, heard late last year of the limited operationalisation. This information was tabled in a joint sitting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Select Committee on Security and Justice.

A PMG report on the joint meeting has it the BMA budget for the current financial year is R120 million excluding budgets to be transferred to the BMA from other government departments, which run individual operations at border posts “because the multi-agency approach was not successful”. The BMA budget from National Treasury and additional allocated funds will increase to R141.52 million in the 2022/23 financial year and R163.35 million in the 2023/24 financial year. According to BMA’s blueprint, estimated expenditure on compensation of employees (CoE) will amount to R2.97 billion with goods and services amounting to R5.28 billion for the BMA to be fully operational.

The PMG report further notes it appears “certain government departments are stalling” as regards implementation of BMA documents and protocols. These include the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), SA Police Service (SAPS) and SA Revenue Service (SARS) as “key border stakeholders”.

It continues stating immigration inspectors from DHA will be deployed at “vulnerable segments” of the border along with SANDF personnel to conduct joint operations. These will focus on border patrol activities in identified vulnerable areas to address illegal migration, illicit movement of goods and other criminal activities.

Plans for deployment of SANDF Reserve Force soldiers on the borderline are, the joint sitting heard, at an advanced stage. BMA leadership is finalising discussions with the SANDF Command Council for secondment of the Reserve Force. This will serve as preparation to the introduction of the BMA border guard.

defenceWeb addressed questions on Reserve Force utilisation to the Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) and the Joint Operations Division of the SANDF last month. At the time of publication no response indicating numbers of personnel involved and where they are/were deployed was received.

There were also no answers to questions on the use of military personnel to man toll roads and tolling stations over the year-end break. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise said soldiers would be assigned these infrastructure protection duties as part of government’s overall security plan.