Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi wants the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill, which the government hopes to use to tackle porous borders, to be passed and signed into law.

Delivering his budget vote on Wednesday, Motsoaledi decried the fact that the bill, which was passed in the National Assembly in 2017, was still stuck at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

“Our immediate task is to go to the NCOP and unstick it so that we can establish the authority,” he said.

Motsoaledi said a debate has been raging for a long time about South Africa’s porous borders and fragmented border management approach.

The minister said the borders were presently managed by seven different departments and entities applying 58 different laws passed by Parliament.

“These departments have seven different command structures with different laws, work ethics and different governance regimes. Under the BMA, there will be one command structure, and one governance system. The management of the borders will become rational.”

He said once the Bill was passed, the Border Management Authority pilot projects would start and focus on OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town Seaport and Oshoek land post between eSwatini and South Africa, as well as Lebombo land post between Mozambique and South Africa.

Motsoaledi also revealed that his department came across 2132 fraudulent marriages from April last year.

“Out of these 1160 were found to be indeed fake and were annulled by the department but 646 were found to be legitimate and the department refused to expunge such marriages from the register,” he said, adding that these were called marriages of convenience. He noted that there was a mistaken belief that when transactions through such marriages have been completed, people could just approach Home Affairs and demand that they expunge the marriage from records.

“I wish to warn that Home Affairs cannot just expunge your marriage simply because you no longer want it.

"If you marry legally but for the wrong reasons, you can only cancel that marriage through normal divorce proceedings in a court of law.”

Motsoaledi said out of the 2132 fraudulent marriages, 326 were still being investigated.

He said in trying to accelerate the issuing of smart ID cards, they would this financial year start assessing 26 more offices around the country to see if they could be equipped with the smart card system. “When this happens it will increase the offices that are so equipped to 219.”

He said banks have agreed to go into public-private partnership with the department so that their clients need not go to queue in Home Affairs offices when they want the smart ID.

Political Bureau