President Cyril Ramaphosa says the newly launched Border Management Authority (BMA) will provide a sustainable solution to the structural challenges of border security, control and coordination.
Speaking during the launch of the BMA at Musina on Thursday, Ramaphosa said it would help to combat cross-border crime.
The BMA comprises a new model of integration of functions, roles and responsibilities in the broader law enforcement environment.
“The Border Management Authority is expected to tackle the challenges of congestion, procedural delays, long transit times, lack of predictability and high logistics costs. I commend the Border Management Authority for the speed with which it has already commenced its work,” he said.
“When our country’s ports of entry and borders are well protected and well managed, we are able to prevent the illegal importation and exit of goods. We see the Border Management Authority as a vital link in our efforts to harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
He said the authority had been established in response to serious challenges, including the increase in the number of undocumented foreign nationals entering the country, which had exacerbated its social and economic problems.
“The movement of persons and goods at ports of entry has often not been as efficient as it should be, resulting in unnecessary delays and increased costs for individuals and companies. This in turn is harming our economy.
"Deficiencies in border management have also enabled corruption and organised and cross-border crime to thrive. We have faced a problem of fragmentation of powers, responsibility and accountability,” Ramaphosa said.
The BMA is now the third armed service in South Africa after the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Services (Saps).
It is mandated to perform border management functions within ports of entry as well as the law enforcement area. The authority is being established through an incremental approach.
Steps have already been taken to integrate functions of the departments of home affairs, agriculture, health, and fisheries, forestry and the environment under the BMA.
The BMA has signed implementation protocols with the South African Revenue Service, Saps and SANDF.
“While the border guard will be conducting border law enforcement functions, including access control, the South African National Defence Force remains responsible for border protection and safeguarding. The border guard will interface with the nearest police station with regard to the occurrence of a crime at a port of entry,” the President said.
The BMA will redevelop six ports of entry as one-stop border posts to improve efficiency at land border crossings by combining the stops required for processing exit and entry formalities.
The first BMA border guard officers were deployed at vulnerable segments of the border in July. – SAnews.gov.za