Soldiers and immigration officials to be BMA vanguard this festive season


The nascent Border Management Authority (BMA), not yet fully operational, plans “border patrol activities over the festive season” which will see immigration inspectorate staff working with soldiers to curtail and hopefully stop – illegal migration, smuggling and “general criminal activities along the borderline”.

Parliamentarians from the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs (PCHA) and the Select Committee on Security and Justice this week heard of developments and progress on government efforts to rid South Africa of its “porous borders” appellation.

The deployment of DHA immigration inspectors and soldiers is, the committees heard, in line with what is said to be government’s integrated festive season operational plan.

Apart from boots and shoes on the ground in the next few weeks, BMA leadership is finalising discussions with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Command Council to “second” the Reserve Force. While not stated as such, the inference is part-time soldiers will become the nucleus if not all of what the presentation said is going to be the “BMA Border Guard”.

Border guards are expected to conduct law enforcement at ports of entry and on the borderline.

The presentation states it is “hoped” to finalise a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the BMA and the national defence force “by no later than the end of November (five working days from now, including today).

The BMA sees its border guard division “launched sometime early next year” with no indication of personnel strength.

The BMA, according to its presentation, has five aims.

These include “discouraging inter-jurisdictional migration” by illegal border crossings and “encouraging the use of legal ports of entry with legal documentation”.

Other crimes BMA staff will attempt to stop are human and wildlife trafficking, smuggling, addressing “all forms of corrupt tendencies in the entire border management platform” and ensuring “smooth movement of legitimate goods and services”.

The BMA will remain “incubated” in Minister Aaron Motsloaledi’s department until April 2023 when it is envisaged to become a standing Schedule Three public entity. These are extensions of a public entity (in this instance DHA) given a mandate to fulfil a specific economic or social responsibility. Schedule Three entities are dependent on government funding and public money, either by a transfer from the National Revenue Fund or statutory money.

For the current financial year, parliamentarians heard the BMA is budgeting for R120 million in the first part of its operationalisation. This increases to R141 million the following year (2022/23) and R163 million in 2023/24. The amounts quoted exclude “budgets to be transferred to BMA by departments”. These include Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Defence and Military Veterans; Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Finance; Health; Police; State Security; Trade, Industry and Competition; and Transport.

A projection in the presentation has it that, once fully operational as a Schedule Three entity, the BMA will incur expenses exceeding R8 billion. These are set out as compensation of employees (CoE) of R2 974 962 978 and R5 281 133 622 for goods and services. The presentation does not indicate if these expenses will be ongoing or shrink once, for example, specific goods are acquired.

The BMA has a new logo thanks to the involvement of GCIS (Government Communication and Information Service) approved in October and acquired 15 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles. Uniform specifications were finalised in June.