High volumes of traffic at the South African border in Musina wait to cross the Beit Bridge border into Zimbabwe for the festive season holidays. File Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

Pretoria - South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs on Wednesday announced the extension of operating hours at ports of entry over of the Easter holiday, which is characterised with mass movement of people into and out of the country.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told journalists in Pretoria that the extension of operating hours at selected ports of entry was already implemented.

“Historical data on operations conducted during peak seasons in the border environment reflect the need to extend operational hours at ports of entry to cater for the upsurge in traveller movements. I have therefore approved the extension of operational hours for selected ports of entry experiencing significant increase in movement volumes during peak periods,” said Gigaba.

“The extension of operational hours at ports of entry commenced yesterday, 27th of March, and will run until 06th of April 2018.  Stakeholders at ports of entry and the countries sharing borders with the Republic of South Africa have been engaged and agreed on the dates to effect the extended operational hours.”

He said the anticipated increased movement of travellers further required that ports of entry be fully capacitated, amidst the limited resources available.

“This therefore makes it imperative for ports to be well-prepared at all times to execute and facilitate traveller movement, and, importantly, also to mitigate illegal movements and transgressions. The upsurge in traveller and vehicular movements puts a strain on limited resources at the ports of entry. This means that additional human resources must be deployed as requested to ensure reasonable turnaround times and avoid congestion at ports,” said the former finance minister. 

“All stakeholders in the border environment are mobilizing resources to address the shortage by either deployment of additional staff or providing overtime.”

During the previous peak travelling period, the 2017/18 festive season, Gigaba said a total of 13,320 undocumented travellers reported to South Africa’s ports of entry attempting to cross. Of the 13,320, 4,820 were Mozambicans, 4,126 Basotho, 4,301 Zimbabweans, 18 Batswana, 16 Swazis, 10 Pakistani, seven South Africans, seven Tanzanians, six Burundians, three Malawians, three Zambians, two Bangladeshi and one Ugandan.

Gigaba said planning for the 2018 Easter period commenced immediately after the closing up of the 2017/18 festive season border security operations.

African News Agency/ANA