SA’s border security system faces challenges


One of the main challenges for SA’s ports of entry is that the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA’s) IT systems are not integrated.

This is according to department minister Malusi Gigaba, responding to a parliamentary question. He said the Enhance Movement Control System (EMCS) has not been integrated with all DHA systems.

The EMCS is part of the DHA’s modernisation programme for border security. It allows the DHA to monitor and deal with entry into and departure from the country. EMCS ensures secure management of immigration and requires integration of existing or newly designed systems.

As part of the EMCS, the DHA aims to integrate biometric technology in its information systems, with fingerprint and facial recognition at SA’s main points of entry. So far, EMCS has been rolled out to 58 of 72 ports of entry.

The DHA aims to have all designated ports of entry equipped with biometric systems capable of processing 100% of travellers by 2018/19.

However, Gigaba noted there has been a big challenge in integrating all DHA systems for the EMCS.
“Every system has its own user-information, identifiers and business rules, and as such, provides data according to defined parameters,” explained Gigaba.
“A single view of the traveller will only be possible once there is full system integration with EMCS.”

According to BMI-TechKnowledge (BMI-T) analyst, Tertia Smit, ICT capacity and budget constraints restrict the modernising and integrating of systems.

Smit says as a result of the delays for integrated systems at the ports of entry, the DHA is riding on the back of the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
“They are collaborating closely with SARS…as well as working with the security cluster to improve security at border posts,” she says.

Integration tender

A recent BMI-T report notes ongoing problems within the DHA delay plans to create modern and integrated systems.

The report revealed a tender for a “service provider to provide resources to implement an integrated justice system for a period of three years was issued in May 2015, by the DHA. However, on 12 June 2015, the tender was cancelled.”

The BMI-T report also notes ICT spending within the DHA is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6%, as the department attempts to create a modernised, integrated information system, improve its client interfaces and increase immigration enforcement capacity.