Mpuma MEC calls for more border security

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Mpumalanga Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Vusi Shongwe, has called for the strengthening of borders, as this will have an impact in reducing crime in the province and the country. He has called on the police and defence to work together in ensuring that all illegal crossings are closed, especially around Mananga border area.

Shongwe has called on the community around border lines to use legal ports of entry and refrain from illegal crossings, the state BuaNews agency reports. He said they do not have to first become the victims of crimes, such as human trafficking and stock theft to realise how dangerous illegal crossings are.

The MEC was responding to calls by the Mananga residents, who have called on the department to allow them to use illegal border crossings. The community called on the MEC during a border security campaign that took place in Mananga hall on Sunday, 24 July 2011. The purpose of the campaign is to educate communities living next to border lines not to cross the border through illegal crossings, and to be aware of dangerous foreigners who use the border line to smuggle stolen goods and drugs.

The Mananga residents told the representatives of the department of Safety, Security and Liaison that they cannot afford to apply for passports; hence illegal crossing is the solution. They complained that passports were too expensive for them, since most of them were unemployed. Some of them said their relatives lived in Swaziland while others complained about the costs they need to pay the South African Revenue Service (SARS) when they have brought something from the neighbouring countries.

One resident said it was useless for him to go to the gate while the illegal crossing was near where he stays. They pleaded with the department to assist them get passports for free or to be allowed to continue using the illegal crossings. Speaking at the same event was project manager, Robert Mkhwanazi, who alerted the community about the dangers of using the border lines.

He said that people were killed and women were robbed and raped in those areas. He also told the community not to allow strangers or foreigners in their homes and should alert the police if they suspect something from a stranger.

MEC Shongwe has encouraged residents living next to border lines to apply for passports and stop using illegal crossings. He says it is a crime to use illegal crossings and people will be arrested if found crossing the border line. Shongwe also added that the police together with the South African National Defence Force will continue to guard the border and will arrest those who break the law, including corrupt officials working at the border.

He said illegal crossings will not be allowed, instead the police and the defence force must intensify patrolling of those borders in order to reduce transnational crime.

He added that the same people who now want to illegally travel between this country and Swaziland are the ones who would later blame the government when their livestock is stolen and taken out of the country or when their families become victims of human trafficking.