Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced several measures to improve security along South Africa’s border with Mozambique, including R50 million worth of physical border improvements.
Mbalula made the announcements on Friday whilst visiting Manguzi near Kosi Bay. He said that approximately R50 million has been set aside to build a barrier to reinforce security in Umhlabuyalingana area of the border in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbalula also said South Africa and Mozambique will put in place an extradition treaty in an effort to combat cross-border crime. “Between the two governments – the Minister of Police and the Minister of Police in Mozambique, together with the two generals – we are going to meet and put an extradition treaty in place to ensure that the criminals hiding in Mozambique will be sent back to South Africa to stand trial,” he said.
Mbalula said South Africa is working ceaselessly to combat cross-border crime and noted that 14 police officers have been arrested for engaging in criminal activity and corruption on the border. “We have upgraded the [border] station and we put a new police force in place, and we are also going to upgrade in terms of our operations, from the point of view of the police, in fighting crime in this particular area,” he said.
This comes after protests a month ago in the Manguzi and Mbazwana areas over cross-border crime, with residents angry over the hijacking and smuggling of vehicles into Mozambique. Rubber bullets were fired during the protests and a number of people were arrested. One of the grievances residents had was that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is not allowed to carry out ‘hot pursuit’ of criminals into Mozambique.
After the protests, Mbalula visited Manguzi at the beginning of February. “The people of Manguzi have been complaining about cross border crime. The theft of motor vehicles in the area as reported is a serious concern that needs strong intervention from the police,” Mbalula said.
“To talk about and fix our MOU in relations to cross border criminality that we need to fix between the two countries. Cars get stolen, taken to Mozambique; they never come back because they are bought by even public servants and officials within security forces. We need to fix that because if we are going to have a neighbour who is not helping in fighting crime that is too detrimental to the safety of the region and the peaceful co-existence between the two countries.
“We need to seek and find these syndicates and arrest them as they are the root cause of our problem. More to this, we need a multifaceted approach of government’s security cluster response to strengthen our anti-crime strategy at the border. The community is already on board further placing emphasis on community partnerships in our fight against crime. Above all, we need to meet with our neighbouring countries on the border, specifically Mozambique. We will come back to the area in two weeks with an integrated plan that brings all these aspects together,” Minister Mbalula said during his visit at the beginning of February.