Border Management Authority (BMA) commissioner Dr Mike Masiapato said on Thursday that the BMA is already making strides in protecting the country's borders, as he revealed that 95 000 immigrants with fraudulent documents have been deported back to their countries since July 2022 and that 139 stolen vehicles have been recovered before crossing borders.
The BMA was launched last year by Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi but the authority will be officiated on October 5, in Musina, by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Masiapato said discussions on the implementation of the BMA have been ongoing for 15 years, with the ultimate breakthrough happening in July 2022 when Ramaphosa passed the Border Management Act into law.
In the 2022/23 financial year, the BMA was incubated under the Home Affairs Department.
Since then, certain functions from sister departments that work with the BMA have been moved to the BMA via Section 97 of the Constitution, which provides guidance on the transfer of functions from one organ of State to another.
Two-hundred border guards are employed by the BMA, and it has also hired 2 100 officials while 400 are undergoing training.
In addition, coast guards are also being trained and technology will be used to supplement the work done by the guards.
He said once the BMA had been fully equipped it would be able to deal with corruption. Biometric systems would be introduced.
Staff quarters for the guards will also be constructed to accommodate them.
A significant challenge, according to Masiapato, is the design of the ports of entry. The BMA is looking to redesign the top six ports of entry as recently announced by Motsoaledi.
The country also faces the challenge of corrupt officials who take bribes and allow people without proper documents to easily enter South Africa.
All individuals working for the BMA will be fully vetted, said Masiapato, and he assured that any officials caught taking bribes would be fired.
The commissioner said the authority’s biggest test, so far, had been the movement of delegates who were recently in attendance at the Brics Summit.
Masiapato is confident that BMA guards are capable of handling movement during the upcoming festive season.
He assured any South Africans who were sceptical about the BMA that despite the limited resources BMA had for now, they would see a difference in border control.