Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was taken to task for reportedly saying she did not have any problem with illegal border crossings.
She apparently made the remark during a Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) meeting to discuss Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille’s by now infamous Beit Bridge fence project.
Democratic Alliance (DA) committee member Benedicta van Minnen seized on Mapisa-Nqakula’s remarks saying, among others, she demonstrated “contempt” for the rule of law in South Africa.
According to Mapisa-Nqakula people coming to South Africa from Zimbabwe in the vicinity of the Beit Bridge port of entry are not illegal immigrants but “merely crossing back and forth for access to services and shopping”.
“The Minister rightfully identifies poverty as a huge problem in Zimbabwe and drives people to illegally cross the border. In admitting her knowledge of multiple illegal border crossings and apparent justification of the army’s role she demonstrates contempt for the rule of law.
“She also directly contradicts the regulations and requirements of the National State of Disaster and the regulations of the National Coronavirus Command Council. The Minister does not seem to appreciate it is the role of the Beit Bridge port of entry crossing to facilitate legal entry and exit into the Republic and there is no justification for illegal crossings.
“How can a Cabinet Minister, one directly responsible for national security, not only admit knowledge of illegal actions to a Parliamentary committee and seek to justify this behaviour instead of using her Department to enforce legal border crossings?
“Not only is the fence that was commissioned not fit for purpose, but the Ministry of Defence has no problem justifying illegal crossings at a border it is designed to stop and the financial implications of facilitating illegal border crossings to the South African taxpayer.
“In admitting knowledge of illegal action and in justifying same, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula added to her list of indiscretions. It is clear the President must fire her immediately,” Van Minnen said in a statement.