To ensure the smooth movement of people and goods in and out of South Africa during the peak festive season period, Home Affairs will be extending operating hours at the country’s busy borders and beefing up security.
“Operational hours will be extended for busy ports of entry, covering pre-festive season movements, the festive season period and the re-opening of schools, that is, from 6 December 2017 to 16 January 2018,” said the department in a statement on Thursday.
The Lebombo border in Mpumalanga will be operational 24 hours a day between 13 December and 8 January 2018. Oshoek will also be operational 24 hours between 21 and 25 December 2017.
Van Rooyenshek in the Free State will be operational 24 hours a day between 22 and 23 December 2017, while Caledonspoort will be open 24 hours on 22 December.
To avoid the congestion associated with peak periods, the department has also deployed additional staff at targeted ports of entry.
The department said it will work to ensure only legitimate people and goods are allowed to enter into or depart from the Republic.
During the 2015/16 festive period, a total of 5 303 555 movements were captured, comprising arrivals and departures of citizens and foreigners. Of these movements, 3 814 402 were for foreigners.
In the 2016/17 festive period, the number rose to 5 504 022 – which is an increase of 200 467 or 3.78%. For 2016/17, movements for foreigners recorded reached 3 944 788.
“Learning from past experience, sound planning is critical as we are likely to experience an increase in traveller movements, which exerts additional strain on available resources at ports of entry while posing security risks and dynamics for South Africa and countries with which it shares borders.
“This makes it necessary to plan for and mitigate against illegal movements and other transgressions,” said the department.
It said the border environment is made vulnerable by civilians and officials who facilitate illegal and unauthorised movement, especially in peak periods. “This happens where border officials are corrupt, accepting bribes, or where border systems and business processes are manipulated.”
Types of threats and risks identified for peak periods include fraudulent South African travel documents, used by illegal migrants; fraudulent affidavits used by travellers of foreign origin to cross the border with South African registered vehicles; fraudulent or illegal stamping of travel documents, usually from those who have overstayed, are in possession of fraudulent documents or are fugitives from justice and undocumented travellers, entering the country illegally or with expired visas, among others.
The Department of Home Affairs, in consultation with and support from the SA Police Service, will effect enhanced border coordination institutional arrangements. This will ensure the border environment is well managed.
The National Border Management Coordination Committee – departments and state agencies with a border control mandate – will assess border control processes at ports of entry over the period and provide situational awareness reports.
“The Department of Home Affairs will inspect travel documents, log and refer asylum-seekers to reception centres, facilitate deportations and prevent human trafficking.
“The SA Police Service will focus on patrols, inspection of vehicles, searches and seizures, profiling, access control at land ports, crowd management, response to crime hits and investigations.
“The SA Revenue Services will respond to inspection requests in its area, quarantine or confiscate goods as necessary, handover impounded goods and confirm if goods have been correctly declared. The Department of Transport will focus on inspections of cross-border permits, traffic control and adherence to transport regulations.
“The Department of Health will handle surveillance or screening measures for communicable diseases, inspections on conveyances at ports of entry, quarantine procedures, compliance with import permits and travel health services,” said the department.