New law to manage ports of entry on Statute Book


It’s been a long time coming and now South Africa’s newest control mechanism for management of the country’s official ports of entry is law.

President Cyril Ramaphosa put his signature to the Border Management Authority (BMA) bill this week and the legislation is, according to his office, in force from Tuesday 21 July.

A Presidency statement has it the latest addition to the South African Statute Book “addresses a need identified by government and diverse stakeholders in the economy for an integrated and co-ordinated border management service that will ensure secure travel and legitimate trade in accordance with the Constitution and international and domestic law”.

“The BMA will, as an objective of the Act, replace different agencies and organs of government all playing different roles in managing aspects of border control,” according to the statement.

“The integrated BMA will contribute to socio-economic development and ensure effective and efficient border law enforcement functions at ports of entry and borders.

“The new law provides for the establishment, organisation, regulation, functions and control of the BMA, the appointment of its commissioner, deputy commissioners and officials. The law provides for terms of office, conditions of service and functions and powers.”

The BMA law will also see establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Consultative Committee, Border Technical Committee and advisory committees. These will review or appeal decisions of officers and define offences and penalties.

Ramaphosa’s office sees the BMA law contributing to national security as well as ease of trade and the general movement of people and goods in and out of the country.

In March the Helen Suzman Foundation said BMA implementation would initially cost just under R4 billion with an anticipated future budget of around R10 billion annually.

Foundation researcher Tove van Lennep saw the BMA as “an attempt to resolve fragmentation of South Africa’s border management, but creating another costly level of government bureaucracy under the Department of Home Affairs (DHA)”.

The now obsolete border management regime, in operation at 57 official ports of entry into South Africa, sees seven government departments and agencies applying 58 different laws. The departments are Home Affairs (Immigration Division), SA Police Service (SAPS), SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Agriculture, Land and Rural Development, Health and SA Revenue Service (Customs and Excise).

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s Home Affairs Department is reported as planning roll-out of the BMA at designated ports of entry in the current financial year, starting with OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town Seaport and the Oshoek and Lebombo ports of entry with eSwatini and Mozambique.