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By Zanele Mbengo


White Paper tightens SA’s border control

Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi acknowledges unknown number of illegal immigrants, plans tighter citizenship criteria.

The department of home affairs has no idea how many illegal immigrants are in South Africa, says Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

However, he said immigration services deported between 15 000 to 20 000 illegal foreigners every year and this number was on the increase.

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“The establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA) should significantly reduce the risk of illegal foreigners entering the country illegally,” Motsoaledi said.

He said the BMA should enter into public-private partnership with other relevant organisations to deal with border management as provided for in the BMA Act.

Positive public response

During the briefing on the final White Paper on citizenship, immigration and refugee protection, Motsoaledi noted the response had been overwhelmingly positive to the proposed final White Paper.

“The department’s response to challenges posed by unlawful migration must be informed by the principle of Pan-Africanism,” he said.

“We want to emphasise the principle of Pan-Africanism does not promote illegality or illegal entry,” he added.

The minister introduced policy frameworks under the final White Paper such as proposals on citizenship.

He said SA couldn’t afford to grant citizenship to all migrants who might enter South African borders to access benefits, rights and privileges.

“The United States, Canada, Switzerland and Britain, which are developed countries with resources that far exceed those of SA, have developed strict immigration, citizenship and refugee laws to protect the rights of their citizens,” Motsoaledi explained.

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Motsoaledi said the criteria for granting citizenship must be tightened.

He said most countries guarded jealously the security of states, safety of citizens and territorial integrity.

“Other countries do not grant citizenship to expatriates, opting to grant permanent residence rights by virtue of investment and buying property,” he explained.

The department noted the current system in SA opened the door for foreign nationals and refugees to obtain citizenship at some stage.

It referenced Section 27 (c) of the Refugees Act which stated “one must have continuous residence in order to qualify for permanent residence”.

“This requires legislative intervention by way of harmonising the laws governing citizenship, immigration and refugee protection,” said the department.

Motsoaledi revealed spaza shops owned by foreign nationals required effective regulation.

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“The minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs has drafted bylaws which require all spaza shops to be audited to regulate the shops and to establish the immigration status of the owners.

“Furthermore, municipalities will introduce bylaws to regulate the location and health and safety.

Traditional leaders will play an important role in informal shops in communal land,” he said.