“Unmanaged migration” a concern for SA local government body

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South Africa’s local government representative body is concerned about what it terms “unmanaged migration” with a summit on the topic just held in Polokwane.

The impact of this phenomena, dealt with on a daily basis  by soldiers deployed on the border protection tasking and police on an irregular basis in urban area, saw SALGA (SA Local Government Association) deliberate on the impact of current policies on migration management and how best to govern it. Other agenda items for the two-day summit included how best to address cross-border crime and how best to alleviate the “burden of border control and documentation of immigrants”.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) border protection tasking, executed as Operation Corona, sees 15 companies of mainly infantry soldiers deployed along South Africa’s land borders. The primary task is preventing what government terms “undocumented persons” illegally entering South Africa. This sees upward of six thousand and in some months, over eight thousand illegal immigrants handed to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) immigration officials.

As part of major crime prevention operations, such as the Safer Festive Season one in December and the ongoing O Kae Molao, police target illegal immigrants as they seek out crime suspects and stolen goods. One such operation toward the end of last year saw 2 900 plus suspected illegal immigrants taken into custody nationally in a 24 hour period.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the SALGA migration summit a common programme of action for all government spheres and stakeholders was needed for effective management of migration. He said his department was rooting out corruption and dismissing officials implicated in criminal activities and guilty of colluding with criminals to obtain fraudulent identification and South African passports SAnews reported.

The SALGA summit follows the Association’s national conference where it resolved to work toward establishing an inter-governmental programme. This would address “challenges” local authorities faced with unmanaged migration. The concept of such a programme was raised by municipalities on South Africa’s land borders where population movement and settlement of undocumented individuals was often encountered.

Apart from the illegal movement of people the summit also heard how cross-border crime affected border municipal authorities.