File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).
Parliament is one step closer to finalising the long-awaited Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill that will see coordinated efforts among government departments to safeguard South Africa’s borders.

With thousands of people entering the country either through tourism or migration and the influx of refugee seekers, the need to strengthen points of entry has been highlighted.

And with the festive season in full swing, Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi announced that capacity had been increased at border posts until January 13, 2020, with 400 extra officials from Home Affairs being deployed to selected points, while SAPS deployed an additional 80 members and SA Revenue Services also adding 86 more officials.

Currently, there are seven different departments stationed at border posts - the SANDF, Sars, Home Affairs and SAPS among others - all operating independently.

Earlier this week the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) adopted the bill, sending it back to the National Assembly for consideration before it is sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign into law.

The bill was introduced in 2016 where it took a year before it was passed by the NA, and spent 19 months at the NCOP before lapsing when the 5th Parliament was dissolved. It was revived in October this year.

Motsoaledi said he welcomed the adoption of the bill, adding that it provided momentum to the country’s efforts to deal with illegal crossing at our borders.

“The implementation protocols with border law enforcement agencies for the mandatory co-ordination of their respective functions within the border law enforcement area and at ports of entry must be finalised within six months of the bill being signed into an Act,” he said.

Motsoaledi said his department had been preparing for the implementation of the bill through the BMA Project Management Office.

“The reason that we want to expedite the establishment of the BMA is because we concede that due to the porousness of our borders, law enforcement agencies of the country are not able to be present everywhere where criminal acts are taking place.”

In previous meetings, project manger for BMA Elroy Africa told Parliament that the department had conducted a costing assessment in 2014/2015 for all the organs of state working at all points of entry into the country.

Africa said current costing of all border law enforcement was in the region of R8.8 billion.

A Border Management Authority Road Map, compiled by the department, indicated that over a 15-year period of having established the BMA, it will cost the state coffers R10.3bn per year to keep it operational.

Weekend Argus