A week-long oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal ports of entry has revealed “challenges” ranging from dysfunctional CCTV through to staff shortages and a lack of IT equipment, according to Connie September, chair of Parliament’s Peace and Security cluster.
The visit by representatives from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees for Police, Defence and Military Veterans, Home Affairs and International Relations as well as the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence was billed as an “unprecedented and inaugural cluster one”.
At the conclusion of the visit that saw MPs call on the Port of Durban, where they were briefed by Portnet officials and senior police officers; King Shaka International Airport; Richard Bay airport and harbour as well as the Golela border line, September said crime and corruption was its “focal point”.
“Government departments and organs of state need to be rigorous in their approach so they can uproot any criminal and corrupt elements harming South Africa’s efforts to secure its borders,” she said in a statement.
She also appealed to people living in and around border communities to assist authorities in identifying and bringing to book those responsible for criminal acts, including drug smuggling and bribery.
September said the security cluster would “do its best to assist in addressing the challenges of border management”.
One who has not been overly impressed by the oversight visit is opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow defence and military veterans minister, Kobus Marais.
He felt “a lot more could be done” as far as border protection is concerned if the thousands of kilometres between official ports of entry formed part of the oversight visit.
“This is where people come and go without the necessary documentation, where contraband is moved into the country and where stolen vehicles are taken out of South Africa,” he said, adding questions posed to SA National Defence Force officers showed there is “simply not enough manpower and equipment to do a proper job of border protection”.