The South African Policing Union (Sapu) said it welcomes the establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA) as an entity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launched the BMA, which will be responsible for securing all border operations in Musina at the Beitbridge port of entry, which has a high influx of cross-border activities.
The BMA was established in terms of part A of Schedule 3 of the Public Finance Management Act outside the Public Service. Its functions include facilitating and managing the legitimate movement of persons within the Border Law Enforcement area and at ports of entry.
Before the establishment of the BMA there were gaps at all of South Africa’s borders at land, sea and airport, where departments were working in silos without one knowing what the other was doing. This posed a further challenge to accountability, which is key to law enforcement attached to border control.
“We acknowledge that the Border Management Authority forms part of law enforcement with members who are peace officers and carries the responsibility to guard what goes out of and what comes into the country. This is a long overdue progressive initiative that is aimed at tightening border management by integrating a co-ordinated approach in managing the country’s various ports of entries.
“We believe the previous multi-agency approach comprising multiple authorities was not effective, thus the Border Management Authority was established in terms of the law to close in on gaps,” said Sapu national spokesperson Lesiba Thobakgale.
He said the union fully supports the establishment of the BMA through the Border Management Authority Act of 2020 as it will in the long run assist in the long-running challenge of illegal immigrants who are difficult to trace when they are alleged to have committed acts of criminality.
“The illegal activities that are conducted through our borders contribute to the high crime levels seen through statistics we see in this country and cannot be left without being eradicated.
“The functions performed like agriculture, biosecurity, immigration, and port health will be much more co-ordinated through the BMA under one command and control.”
Thobakgale said that as much as they support this progressive initiative, they are of the firm belief that the 200 border guards already deployed to the country’s borders of entry since last year and the transfer of the members from different departments through PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2023 was too little.
“This limited number might not yield the desired results, but in the same breath we also appreciate the 400 trainees who are being trained for BMA and we hope that the current cost containment by National Treasury will not hamper the increase of staff, therefore call upon the government to employ more border guards and to enable BMA to get full resources inclusive of technology to do their job,” said Thobakgale.
He added that it is a well-known fact that the country’s borders have not been effectively managed for a lengthy period of time and therefore an aggressive approach is a necessity in order to bring meaningful changes which were needed as in yesterday.
“Sapu wish the commissioner of BMA, the management and all border guards across our borders on the important task bestowed on their shoulders to secure and manage our borders working hand in hand with other role players,” he said.