Minister says border guards trained to stop illegals entering SA


Concerns about South Africa’s soaring murder rate and ways to bring it down prompted an Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) parliamentarian to ask if it was not possible to “address the growing number of undocumented foreign nationals” in the country.

Liezl van der Merwe’s question to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is not the first she has asked regarding the apparent ease of access people from neighbouring countries seem to have to South Africa.

Her latest attempt to obtain more clarification from the Cabinet Minister charged with, among others, border control saw her ask Motsoaledi what measures are in place to address undocumented foreign nationals.

Replying in writing, he pointed out the Border Management Authority (BMA), now a Schedule 3A Public Entity and in some quarters termed another arrow in government’s security quiver, has “trained and deployed border guards to various segments of land border law enforcement areas and ports of entry”. Included in their responsibilities is detecting and preventing “illegal persons” entering South Africa.

“Illegal foreign nationals who are apprehended in the border law enforcement area are handed over to Immigration Services who do verification of their nationality. Once the process is concluded, the deportation process will be initiated,” the Motsoaledi reply reads verbatim.

A Department of Home Affairs (DHA) inspectorate unit co-ordinates with police to find illegal immigrants. Once “apprehended”, they are processed for “verification of their status”. If “they are found to be undocumented/illegal, the process of deportation is initiated,” Van der Merwe was informed.

Motsoaledi’s men – and women – will have handheld “IT tools” to remotely access and verify information on the National Population Register (NPR) in real time. “This system, which will have biometric capabilities, will assist in verification of documents produced by people during citizenship related operations,” he wrote, adding the procurement was financed from the Criminal Asset Recovery (CARA) fund.

In March last year he told the same IFP parliamentarian: “Government does not have a precise number of undocumented immigrants in the Republic due to the clandestine nature of the act of being here illegally. Persons enter without being recorded on any system and live here as unrecorded.

“Different studies give different figures which are unverifiable from three to six million plus. According to figures from Statistics SA, 3.95 million foreign nationals are in South Africa according to their mid-year population estimates in 2021. This includes foreign nationals regardless of status.”