BMA recruiting border guards

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The fledgling Border Management Authority (BMA), signed into law in July 2020 is, according to a February DHA (Department of Home Affairs) human resource circular, looking for 200 people to patrol borders and inspect at ports of entry.

Business Insider reports the BMA needs money – around R8 billion – and a battalion of competent border guards.

The circular reads, in part: “We are looking for committed, passionate, talented, ethical and highly patriotic individuals to form part of the new project of border law enforcement under the BMA”.

“If you are committed on delivering on the National Development Plan’s (NDP’s) priorities (including safer communities, economic growth and positioning South Africa in the world), ascribe to the Department’s shared value set, have what it takes to serve the needs of South Africa’s citizens, residents and visitors – and your credentials meet the requirements of any of the following positions – kindly respond before the closing date [8 March 2022].”

A hundred and eighty-two of the 200 posts in the DHA circular are for “regular border guards”.

Duties include safeguarding evidence, conducting arrests, searching people, luggage and vehicles at roadblocks and responding to electronic sensor alarms in remote areas. Regular BMA border guards can expect a basic salary of R211 713 to R249 378 per annum, along with a “range of competitive benefits” the digital publication reports.

Thirteen senior border guards to lead teams on borderline operations from centres at Beitbridge, Lebombo, Kosi Bay and Ficksburg ports of entry are also on the BMA human resources list.

They need an undergraduate qualification in a security-related field at NQF Level 6 as recognised by the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and a minimum of two years’ experience of command and planning in the public security environment.

Successful candidates will be responsible for inspecting temporary holding cells, monitoring CCTV systems when required, overseeing personnel placement, training, development, performance and discipline and compiling reports on borderline operations in addition to regular border guard work.

Five chief border guards – also referred to as group or platoon commanders – are sought by the BMA. Like the senior guards, the platoon commanders require an undergraduate qualification in a security related field at NQF Level 6 with at least three years’ experience in commanding, planning and executing security operations.

Chief border guards will be responsible for exercising full command and control at team level to ensure efficient and effective border operations. They will also be tasked with conducting interviews and interrogations, ensuring operational readiness of teams for borderline activities and enforcing the BMA dress code.

Platoon commanders will earn a basic salary between R321 543 and R378 765 a year.

“Porous” is an oft-used word when describing the state of South Africa’s 4 862 km of land borders and an indication of this comes from the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). In the first two months of this year soldiers deployed as part of the ongoing border protection tasking Operation Corona intercepted more than ten thousand illegal immigrants (January: 2 997, and February: 7 148), the majority of them from Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Further light on illegal immigrant numbers came from Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi when answering a Parliamentary question posed by MP Liezl van der Merwe, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) member of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee.

The Minister’s written reply indicated 14 133 “undocumented foreign nationals” were deported between April and December last year as a result of 211 “inspections” carried out by DHA officials. Going further, Motsoaledi told his questioner “another operation on the borders” between January 2021 and January this year saw 14 337 people deported.

He could not give Van der Merwe an answer on how many foreign nationals were in South Africa telling her there were “various figures, but these differ”.

“Government does not have a precise number of undocumented immigrants in the Republic due to the clandestine nature of the act of being here illegally. Persons enter without being recorded on any system and live here as unrecorded.

“Different studies give different figures which are unverifiable from three to six million plus. According to figures from Statistics SA, 3.95 million foreign nationals are in South Africa according to their mid-year population estimates in 2021. This includes foreign nationals regardless of status,” Motsoaledi’s response reads.