The Democratic Alliance (DA) maintains government’s failure to “fully capacitate” the border protection tasking Operation Corona has “set up the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) for failure in its duty to secure South Africa’s landward borders”.
This assertion was made this week by Jacques Julius, the party’s immigration spokesman, during a briefing in Johannesburg on the porosity of South Africa’s borders and the need to stop illegal immigration.
“Law abiding citizens and residents cannot feel safe in South Africa because we cannot be confident our law enforcement agencies have a handle on the scale of cross-border crime. We know there are problems with the illicit flow of drugs and other contraband as well as human trafficking. Certain areas have more pronounced problems with cattle raids or hijacking syndicates.
“But how many more crimes go undetected because of an under-capacitated SANDF Operation Corona and dilapidated physical infrastructure?
“South Africa’s landward border stretches around 4 800km. We currently have only 15 of the necessary 22 SANDF sub-units (companies) to patrol this border.”
Julius maintains government’s planned Border Management Agency (BMA) will not assist materially in improving immigration control, both legal and illegal, and suggests a double-pronged approach.
One is establishing a South African Migration Agency to oversee co-ordination and co-operation. Its key performance areas would include policy, improving working relations and facilitating information sharing and joint operations.
The other arm would see current SANDF funding go to a new management plan – Operation Isango, gate in isiZulu.
Julius sees this plan ensuring the number of companies deployed on South Africa’s border can increase from 15 to at least 20 to “assist irregular migrants and direct them to border posts”.
“Units tasked with repair and maintenance of border fences will be trained to combat stock theft and poaching while assisting those entering the country through regular or unsafe irregular migration. This will help prevent and stop illicit trade, wildlife poaching, drug and human trafficking, migrant smuggling, organised crime, terrorism, stock theft and unchecked irregular immigration,” he said.