Johannesburg - AfriForum announced this week that they would be implementing a new border watch initiative to help regulate and minimise criminal activities at the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
It serves as their not-so-secretive frustration in the lapse in border security that has overwhelmed the Department of Home Affairs and rendered its efforts fruitless, in border management.
AfriForum campaigns manager, Jacques Broodryk, explained how the Musina branch of its neighbourhood watch in Limpopo has become regularly involved in the guarding and thwarting of criminals and border jumpers, who have tried to enter the country illegally or with contraband.
“The scariest thing is how blatantly it (crime) is taking place. There are a lot of shocking aspects regarding our border control. If you know where to drive, you can head there in the middle of the day and see these things happening. And it’s not even one of our biggest concerns,” Broodryk said.
Using the positive feedback after the release of their documentary film, Open Borders, Broodryk said AfriForum aimed to strengthen the efforts of our safety structures in border areas. He believed that the existing volunteers, and two trained sniffer dogs, would assist law enforcement in re-instilling South Africans’ belief in law and order.
“Our safety structures have built a reputation for their professionalism and this has led to good cooperation with law enforcement officers. They are legally allowed to play a role in keeping their communities safe. If this embarrasses the government then the government needs to ask itself why?” Broodryk said.
The situation of border security management has been under the spotlight in recent years. The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille, came under fire in Parliament when the Standing Committee questioned her over the state of the Beitbridge border fence which was completed in 2020.
The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) found that the two companies contracted (Magwa Construction and Profteam CC) delivered a fence of poor quality that was easily scalable and not worthy of the R37-million project cost tag attached to the project.
When addressing the committee in parliament, Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, said that South Africans believed that the department was not handling migration properly, leading to groups like AfriForum in communities taking the law into their own hands. A sentiment that Broodryk echoed.
“Unfortunately, there seems to be no political will to address any manner of crime in South Africa. The more lawless the country becomes, the more people will start to take their safety into their own hands.
“If the South African government did what they were supposed to, these volunteers would not have to take it upon themselves to safeguard their communities and risk their lives, when they could be spending time with their families. They should be commended,” Broodryk said..
In response to the criticism, Motsoaledi said the department is working on a complete overhaul of South Africa’s immigration system.
"Another elephant in the room is the problem of immigration. I don't have to outline what is taking place in our country about this problem. It is a crisis we are all well aware of. We have long conceded to the problem of porous borders in our country,” said the minister while delivering the Department of Home Affairs’ budget during Parliament’s mini plenary vote meeting.