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Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi clarifies roles of SANDF and BMA to safeguard the borders

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi conducts an operation at BeitBridge border. Photo Supplied

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi conducts an operation at BeitBridge border. Photo Supplied

Published Jun 30, 2022

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Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has clarified the role of the Border Management Agency’s (BMA) guards to safeguard the borders with the SANDF still protecting and safeguard the country’s 4 773km borderline, including the maritime coastline.

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Motsoaledi said when he was responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Adrian Roos, who asked the difference between the responsibilities of Border Management Authority’s (BMA) and SANDF.

He made the comments as the SANDF earlier this week said it would be illegal for any civil organisation or NGO, including business, to conduct patrols at any borders of the country, after reports surfaced that civil rights group, AfriForum, had taken responsibility for border patrols.

In his response, Motsoaledi said the duties of the border patrol guards entailed conducting general border management activities and security services to ensure effective and efficient border management.

The minister said they will implement controls on the movement of goods and people in the identified ports and segments as well as control the access at the identified port of entry and in the border law enforcement area.

“The responsibility of members of the defence force is to protect and safeguard the country’s territorial integrity through the patrolling of the 4 773km of the land border areas, including the maritime coastline.

“They have currently deployed 13 companies to fulfil this responsibility through the application of a high mobility patrol mechanism from one point to the other,” he said.

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Motsoaledi stated that it should be noted that there were a number of inter-linked communities whereby the border fence had divided them into two halves.

He made examples such as in the North West where there are SANDF on the South African side and the Batswana on the Botswana side.

“This situation means that there is a lot of civilian activity taking place between South Africa and its immediate neighbours.

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“These activities have been taking place in those areas for centuries,” he said.

“Therefore, at this point our concern is the fact that those areas have been hijacked by criminal elements who are then moving counterfeit goods through those communities for their own nefarious gains,” he said.

Motsoaledi said the BMA border guards would be statically deployed in those communities to monitor their activities with the intention to decisively deal with any criminal elements taking advantage of the situation.

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“Further, the BMA would be registering those kinds of areas and declaring them as informal community crossing points and statically deploy the border guards for monitoring those civilian activities.”

Motsoaledi also said there were certain areas outside the communities along the border which were being exploited by criminal elements for advancing their illegal activities.

“In this case, members of the SANDF and the border guards would collectively identify such areas (known as vulnerable segments of the border) and get the latter to be statically deployed in those segments.

“This approach seeks to enable members of SANDF to freely apply their high mobility deployment mechanism while areas of concern are properly protected by the border guards.”

He said the border guards would have immigration, agricultural, and environmental legal empowerment among other prescripts.

The SANDF would be able to hand over intercepted civilians to the border guards for processing, he said.

“The BMA Act empowers the border guards to effectively protect the port of entry, including its 10km radius to detect any traveller who avoids using the port for whatever reasons.

“The deployment of the border guards to the borderline does not seek to compete with the deployed members of the SANDF,” Motsoaledi added.

Cape Times

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