Arrests in connection with Immigration Act at Lesotho border post


The arrest of 18 people allegedly involved in fraudulent activities at a South African border post has highlighted the need for a single controlling body at points of exit and entry but hopes are not high it will work.

Prior to his appointment as Finance Minister this week Malusi Gigaba as Minister of Home Affairs welcomed the arrest of five officials working for the department, 10 police officer and three members of the public . They face charges in connection with contraventions of the Immigration Act. It is alleged they, working through intermediaries, sourced Basotho nationals whose passports have expired and arranged with Home Affairs officials to irregularly stamp the documents and secure entry into South Africa. The network also apparently involved police who ensured the smooth passage of goods at the port of entry a Home Affairs statement said.

The arrests are part of Operation Bvisa Masina, spearheaded by the now Finance Minister to root out corruption in his former portfolio. To date 166 people have been arrested, including 86 government officials. The initiative was launched in July 2015 as a collaborative effort with the objective of working closely with law enforcement agencies as well as government departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster.

Responding to the arrests Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow home affairs minister, Haniff Hoosen, said: “Any attempt to reduce corrupt practices in Home Affairs is welcomed. The fact the so many department officials are arrested for fraud and corruption is a clear indication of the size of the problem”.

He warned it has become “almost institutionalised and the introduction of the Border Management Authority (BMA), if it ever sees the light of day, will not be a solution. It will merely become a beneficiary of an already corrupt system”.