Junior Border Guards drive successes at ports of entry

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The employment of Junior Border Guards at South Africa’s ports of entry is already yielding results and bolstering national security, while providing employment opportunities for young people.

This is according to the Commissioner of the Border Management Authority (BMA), Dr Michael Masiapato.

Speaking ahead of Youth Day this weekend, the Commissioner highlighted what he described as the “outstanding benefits of youth employment of Junior Border Guards, who continue to thrive with massive interceptions at ports of entry”.

During a border law enforcement operation on 11 June 2024, Junior Border Guards at the Lebombo Port of Entry intercepted significant units of counterfeit alcohol hidden in a minibus taxi, under bags of coal and packs of lettuce.

On 12 June 2024, they intercepted counterfeit clothing and shoes hidden in a trailer of another minibus taxi and in a bakkie full of vegetables.

“These vehicles were travelling from Mozambique trying to smuggle the goods illegally when they were stopped for a routine search. The matters were handed over to customs for processing,” said Masiapato.

He highlighted the positive impact the Junior Border Guards have brought in the border law enforcement environment.

He further emphasised the value of investing in youth and the significant returns the investment brings to society.

“As we celebrate Youth Month, the Junior Border Guards continue to play a pivotal role in enhancing the effectiveness of our border security measures. These young recruits, equipped with rigorous training and a commitment to safeguarding our nation, have been instrumental in making massive interceptions that have disrupted illegal activities and protected our borders.

“Young people have been awarded the opportunity to contribute to our nation’s safety and they are thriving at the job,” Masiapato said.

The Border Management Authority remains committed to protecting the 71 ports of entry while facilitating the legitimate movement of goods and people.

The work of the BMA covers areas of immigration, port health, environmental and agricultural biosecurity, including access control and general law enforcement at the ports of entry and border law enforcement areas.

The Commissioner said the authority looked forward to the continued success and the ongoing contributions of these dedicated young individuals.

Last month another 400 border guards entered BMA service. They have been deployed to the most problematic points of entry to deal with illegal migration, illicit cigarettes, human trafficking and smuggling, amongst others. In addition to 100 at Beitbridge, 90 were sent to the Lebombo port of entry with Mozambique, 90 to Lesotho ports of entry, and around 29 reserved for the BMA’s special response team in Pretoria to respond to any port of entry challenge that will arise at any time.

The BMA started operations in April last year and was officially launched in October. It has been able to intercept around 280 000 people trying to enter South Africa illegally, including some individuals without any documentation and some criminals. The BMA has stopped 161 vehicles leaving South Africa illegally – primarily into Mozambique – and prevented 395 explosives from being smuggled in from Zimbabwe. They would have most likely been used in cash in transit heists and illegal mining.

The BMA, President Cyril Ramaphosa said when officially launching the authority in Musina last year, is the newest component of government’s security apparatus. It joins the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), actively deployed on border protection since 2009, which sees 15 companies patrol land borders, and the SAPS with its own border security units, part of its Visible Policing and Operations Division.