Ramaphosa tells NCOP high-tech equipment needed for border security


President Cyril Ramaphosa this week told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) “a range of complementary measures” was coming to address cross border crimes.

“I am certain we will be able to address issues of illegal migration, drug and human trafficking and other cross border crimes,” he said in response to a question asked by NCOP member Shahidabibi Shaikh.

He told the NCOP 15 sub-units (companies) of SA Army units were deployed on the national border safeguarding tasking, Operation Corona, adding more needed to be done.

“The deployment of personnel needs to be augmented with resources such as high-tech equipment to cover such an extensive borderline – be it on land, sea or air,” the President, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), said.

His response echoed SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke’s introduction to the Department of Defence (DoD) annual report for 20129/19 recently tabled in Parliament.

“More needs to be done to mitigate the porousness of our borders and this, given adequate resources, will require an increase of soldiers in the borderline and the use of force multipliers that will enable a real time picture of our borders. To this effect, the SANDF has drafted and completed Border Safeguarding and Sensor Strategies whose implementation plan, if appropriately funded, will considerably mitigate the porousness of the borderline,” South Africa’s top soldier wrote in the report.

The SANDF has trialled Indiza unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, on the borders and has acquired a small number of RSR 906 radars from Reutech for border surveillance.

In the NCOP, Ramaphosa gave some insight into the application of the National Security Strategy.

He said it was being implemented in phases and referring specifically to ports of entry he said police, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and the SANDF all had “critical roles”.

Ramaphosa also said the national defence force “has developed a long term strategic view to focus on specific threats to the sovereignty of the Republic and the authority of the state”.

“Government has deployed a significant amount of resources and put in place extensive measures to control our borders but the extent of the challenges and the sheer length of our land and sea borders show more needs to be done,” he said.

One of the measures is the Border Management Authority (BMA). According to Ramaphosa it will manage all security challenges at South Africa’s ports of entry through, among others, a border policing strategy to ensure “effective and efficient combating of transnational and other crimes around the border environment”.