BMA deported 27 000 people in December/January

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The newest component of South Africa’s security architecture – the Border Management Authority (BMA) – has it “about 15 924 individuals attempting to enter South Africa without requisite documentation” were “detected” over the year-end period.

BMA Commissioner Mike Masiapato is reported by government news agency SAnews as telling a Sunday media briefing in Pretoria after being intercepted, the undocumented persons were fingerprinted, declared undesirable and banned from coming back into South Africa for five years. They were deported and their personal information now forms part of the BMA biometric movement control system (BMCS).

The majority of interceptions – 6 808 between 6 December and 18 January – were at the Lebombo port of entry (PoE) between Mozambique and South Africa with Beitbridge (South Africa/Zimbabwe) a distant second at 1 891.

Masiapato reported BMA personnel denied entry to 6 455 travellers “for being undesirable” – including those who committed crimes in other countries and appeared on the Interpol red list.

Another 4 626 travellers were refused entry for having invalid passports, fraudulent visas or failing to produce valid yellow fever inoculation certificates.

The government news agency reports him saying: “This means 27 005 people were deported while attempting to enter South Africa” over the festive season.

Masiapato raised his concern at public transporting companies that continue to transport illegal migrants. During the festive period, the BMA imposed 98 administrative fines to various conveyancers, especially bus companies, to the value of R3.5 million for transporting illegal migrants at the cost of R15 000 per person.

BMA personnel at all 71 ports of entry handling air, land and sea entry and exit “processed” 5 096 288 travellers in the 41 day period reviewed by Masiapato. This is a million more than in the 2022/23 year-end period.

Other numbers made public by the BMA number one included 13 050 aircraft “processed” at South Africa’s 10 international airports and 709 vessels handled at nine maritime ports of entry.

Envisaged upgrades on what the BMA and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) term priority land ports of entry will be longer in becoming reality as prospective contractors asked for – and were given – an extension of time to submit bids/contracts. The PoEs are Beitbridge (Zimbabwe); Lebombo (Mozambique); Maseru Bridge (Lesotho); Kopfontein (Botswana); Ficksburg (Lesotho) and Oshoek (Eswatini).

The redevelopment project includes what is called “full infrastructure development of each designated PoE and provision of required services to support functioning of the BMA and its stakeholders”.

The extension comes in the wake of site visits ahead of the year-end closure of many businesses with interested contractors stating time was needed to raise funds for the project, a PPP (public/private partnership) one, as well as its “complexity and unique nature”.

From a BMA and DHA point of view the extension gives additional opportunity for “the private sector to conduct broader consultations with each other and provide high-quality bids to government”.

The new submission date for bids is extended from the first closing date of 4 March to 4 July.

Meanwhile, the latest available statistics (December 2023) from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division on its Operation Corona border protection tasking show soldiers deployed along the 233 km land border with Zimbabwe accosted 794 illegals in December, a long way off the 1 891 attempting illegal entry at the official PoE. Just three illegal immigrants stopped by soldiers on the Mozambique/South Africa border in Mpumalanga, coinciding broadly with the Lebombo PoE, with a further eight apprehended by soldiers on the Kwazulu-Natal border with South Africa’s eastern neighbour.