New border guards do access control

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The deployment of part of the first “cohort” of border guards as part of the Border Management Authority’s (BMA’s) over-arching responsibility for border protection appears to have partially backfired at one of the busiest ports on entry – Beitbridge.

SAnews reports the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), where the BMA resides until such time it becomes a self-standing operational entity, dismissed claims of border guards turning back Zimbabweans wanting to return home when they reach the sole official port of entry between South Africa and its northern neighbour.

“Border guards are doing access control duties at Beitbridge and they direct the Zimbabweans wanting to go back to their home country to relevant queues so they can be documented in accordance with the Immigration Act.

“They need to be fingerprinted and have their demographic details taken.

“Nobody will be allowed to waltz through our borders without being documented. There are no exceptions, whether you go through a land port, sea port or an airport. This is regardless of nationality,” the government news agency reports Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi as saying.

Border guards are trained on border control processes. One module in their training includes the process to follow when people want to leave the country but do not have enabling documents SAnews reported.

The presence of BMA border guards doing access control can probably be linked to the initial deployment announcement of the first group of 200. They, DHA said in July, will do duty at “identified problem segments” of the South African land border. The “segments” were named as Beitbridge, Lebombo, Kosi Bay and Maseru Bridge.

These ports of entry, according to Motsoaledi, are “vulnerable” in the 10 segments making up the total South Africa land border as decided by the BMA, at present still incubated in the DHA from which it will leave next April to become a Schedule 3A standalone entity.