The South African government’s Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee (BCOCC) says it is seeking to alleviate congestion at the country’s busiest ports of exit and entry over the festive season while stepping up the fight against crime.
A number of government agencies and departments are responsible for border control. The Department of Home Affairs is responsible for migration control at all designated ports of entry while the SA Revenue Service (SARS) is accountable for customs and excise at the same points. The police are responsible for preventing illegal border crossing, with the SA National Defence Force in support.
The military will however withdraw from the task on 31 March and the police`s ability to control the border line has long been doubted.
A joint statement issued on behalf of the BCOCC by SARS says border control operations will be monitored and coordinated at the National Border Management Coordination Centre (NBMCC) in Pretoria.
“The NBMCC will monitor the trends in the movement of goods and people and, if necessary, employ contingency plans at the busiest ports of entry in the country. It must be noted that the busiest ports of entry during the festive season are our land ports with the most congested ones being Maseru Bridge and Ficksburg (Free State); Beitbridge (Limpopo); Lebombo and Oshoek (Mpumalanga),” the statement says.
The statement explains the BCOCC is an affiliated structure of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster and was mandated in 2005 “to strategically manage the South African port of entry environment in a coordinated manner”. SARS is the lead government agency and chair of the BCOCC.
The BCOCC mandate as a coordinating structure extends to all sea; land and air ports of entry and exit. The mandate includes:
· Develop and implement National Integrated Border Management Strategy (NIBMS).
· Planning and acting within one framework, whilst retaining agency-specific accountabilities.
· Create a workable balance between security, trade, tourism and economic development in the RSA and the SADC region.
· Harmonise and implement legislation and policy, thereby improving legal flow of persons and goods.
· Advise policy makers on matters relating to Border Management.
· Coordinate law enforcement operations at Ports of Entry in order to combat illegal activities whilst facilitating legal flow of goods and travellers.
· Mediate, cases of conflict or disagreement relating to Border Management amongst agencies.
The following government institutions are involved in the Border Control and Security Framework:
· Department of Home Affairs (National Immigration Branch)
· Department of Transport
· Department of Public Works
· Department of Agriculture
· Department of Health (Port Health)
· Department of Intelligence Services (National Intelligence Agency)
· Department of Defence (South African National Defense Force)
· Department of Safety and Security (South African Police Service)
· Department of Finance (SARS)
OVERVIEW OF THE PORT OF ENTRY OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
· Individuals are not allowed to take firearms to other countries without a permit. Police officials are no longer permitted to keep firearms for temporary storage.
· All South African registered vehicles to be taken to neighbouring countries should have the following documentation:
· Vehicle Registration Documents–
o In the case of a vehicle financed by an RSA-bank, a letter from the financial institution/bank authorising the driver to take the vehicle out of the country, is needed.
o In the case of a vehicle owned by a company, an authorisation letter on the company letterhead, authorising the driver to take the vehicle out of the country, is needed.
o This should include the vehicle`s insurances.
Immigration (Department of Home Affairs) requirements
· Passports are not issued at Ports of Entry. They are only issued at the Department’s Regional or District offices across the country.
· No person, including children, will be allowed to pass through a port of entry without a valid passport and/or visa (where applicable).
· All foreign nationals entering the Republic must have at least one unused page in their passport.
· Foreign nationals entering the RSA should have a passport that is valid for at least 30 days after the intended stay.
· Visitors are only allowed to stay in the country if they have a valid passport as well as a valid visa (where applicable), and should furthermore ensure that their visa (where applicable) does not expire whilst they are still in the country.
· Major ports of entry will be operating on an extended hour basis and travellers can also make use of the Department`s call centre number – 0800 60 11 90 – to find out more information. The call centre is operational from 7am to 7:30pm on weekdays and from 8am to 5pm on Saturdays.
· Members of the public should ensure that they declare all goods in their possession with all necessary documentation such as invoices or proof of purchase.
· All imported second-hand clothing entering the country for purpose of trade/ re-sale needs to be accompanied by a permit from DTI (Department of Trade & Industry).
· All valuable items such as motorbikes, cameras and laptops are to be declared at Customs (both during arrival and departures).
· VAT refunds: Permit holders (work or study) including mine workers are no longer allowed to claim VAT, they can only claim VAT refund on expiry of their permits. This can be done within a 90 day period before their final departure from RSA.
Department of Agriculture requirements
· No agricultural and animal products, including live animals, even for personal consumption are allowed to enter the country (RSA) without a permit. Such goods will be detained if permits are not available.
Department of Health requirements
· All corpses (human remains) need a permit to enter or leave the country
· Travellers going abroad or coming into the country are only allowed to bring medicine which will last for 30 days if they are in possession of the doctor prescription
· People travelling to and from yellow fever countries must be in possession of a yellow fever certificate.
· The public are reminded that they must take precautionary measures to limit delays as a drastic increase of traffic (people and vehicles) is normal for this time of the year. The following advice is offered
o Ensure that all documents are in order
o Ensure that all documents are in order
o Make provision in planning for prolonged processing at Ports highlighted
o Where possible use other ports of entry
o Avoid peak traffic periods
o Ensure roadworthiness of vehicle
o Be prepared for adverse weather conditions(very hot)
o Follow signage and instructions from officials at Ports
o Be patient