Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


BMA at work, but expert warns about exploitation of immigrants at borders

Migration experts have stressed the need for a balanced approach that considers border security, human rights and regional development.


The Border Management Authority (BMA) says more than one million people moved through South Africa’s ports of entry over the Easter weekend – up more than 24% from the previous year.

In a briefing on Sunday, BMA commissioner Dr Michael Masiapato said: “On the movement of people, we facilitated about 1 136 250 travellers across our 71 ports of entry in the period of 10 days between Tuesday, 26 March to Thursday, 4 April.”

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He added: “Compared to the 2023 Easter period where we reported 913 859, we noted an addition of 222 391 more travellers facilitated, registering a 24% increase in traveller volume.

“As is the norm, OR Tambo International Airport, the Lebombo port of entry to Mozambique and the Beit Bridge port of entry to Zimbabwe remained the top three ports which processed the majority of travellers at 528 042.”

BMA operations

It saw an increase in the number of holidaymakers boarding cruise ships at Cape Town harbour to various destinations.

The BMA processed 36 675 private vehicles, 1 893 minibus taxis and 1 309 buses, as well as passengers from 2 621 aircraft.

A total of 252 vessels were dealt with by officials of which 119 were for “crew changes through the off-port limit mechanism”.

The authority’s personnel also intercepted 3 841 people trying to enter the country illegally, some of whom were unaccompanied minors.

READ MORE: BMA deported 27,005 individuals attempting to enter SA illegally in two months

They issued penalties of R270 000 to bus companies transporting illegal migrants and intercepted several cargo consignments that failed to comply with bio-security regulations.

The BMA’s rigorous health screenings at ports of entry screened more than 91 000 travellers for infectious diseases and illegal medications and cosmetics were seized.

Law enforcement efforts resulted in the arrest of 143 individuals for various crimes, including smuggling and bribery attempts.

Additionally, joint operations with neighbouring countries led to significant interceptions, such as the destruction of a smuggling bridge across the Limpopo River.

Border security

Since January, the BMA reported that it had refused entry to South Africa to more than 4 000 people who it said did not have the required documentation.

Recent policies have leaned towards restricting migrants, echoing trends seen in countries like Australia and parts of Europe, prompting concerns about their compatibility with the interests of Africa and South Africa.

Migration experts stress the need for a balanced approach that considers border security, human rights and regional development.

NOW READ: Grim border rescue: BMA halts trafficking of more than 400 children into SA

They advocate for addressing the root causes of migration while upholding individual rights.

Commenting on the issue, migration expert Kgothatso Lediga said: “This strategy shifts responsibility for border corruption away from Home Affairs and places it on individuals seeking passage, despite the likelihood that officials in positions of authority are the ones exploiting vulnerable individuals at the borders.”

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