South Africa and Zim Increase Controls On Border Crimes

Along the Limpopo River and at the Beitbridge port of entry, where cases of unauthorized immigration and the smuggling of illegal products are common, Zimbabwe and South Africa have strengthened their grip on border offenses.

The regional enforcement group was established by Zimbabwean border stakeholders a fortnight ago to stop cases of unauthorized migration between the two nations.

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Since then, a team led by the Department of Immigration and comprised of several authorities has been intercepting 150 to 200 individuals daily who are either entering the country illegally or smuggling items.

This will assist in reducing illegal activity, including border jumping, touting, the use of fraudulent travel documents and immigration stamps, as well as more serious human trafficking.

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Recently, the two nations have worked together to combat crime near their border, and yesterday South Africa sent 200 border guards to five of its land borders. Some of these guards were stationed near the borders with Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini, which have been identified as cross-border crime hotspots, and they are under the jurisdiction of the recently established Border Management Authority (BMA).

Mr. Trustworthy Manatsire, the interim regional immigration officer in charge at Beitbridge-Zimbabwe, stated that his office was collaborating with other border agencies to reestablish order inside the port of entry and across its perimeter. Since the enforcement committee was established, “we have been recording positive results,” the man stated.

“On average, we have been stopping 150 people each day for border offences, and we hope to keep up the momentum”

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“Within the border, we are targeting vendors, touts, vagrants, and undocumented immigrants and migrants at all known hotspots and areas where they frequent.”

Mr. Manatsire said the team had identified at least 15 common illegal crossing points where smuggling and the irregular movement of people were rife.

The smuggling of cigarettes, livestock, and stolen vehicles and irregular migration has become rampant along the Limpopo River, resulting in security authorities from both countries conducting joint patrols in the area.

In the last 12 months over 30 people have been arrested for smuggling stolen vehicles along the border.

Mr. Manatsire was hopeful that the deployment of more security personnel by South Africa, would complement Zimbabwe’s ongoing crackdown on illegal activities on the border front.

The security task force that had been deployed by the government of Zimbabwe had helped contain increased crime along the Limpopo River.

“We are determined to make the transformed border one of the best crime-free facilities and it is pleasing to note that our neighbours have also made a commitment towards that direction by deploying more manpower,”

South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said during the deployment of the border guards at Beitbridge yesterday that these will be working hand in glove with the SA defence forces.

He said the newly-recruited members of the Border Guard were carefully selected and trained, with a focus on fitness and physical assessment and that a lifestyle audit had been carried out on them to minimise cases of corruption.

Whilst the broader integration process is underway, this cohort will be statically deployed at the identified five vulnerable segments of the borderline, working together with members of the South African National Defence Force.

The BMA, which is South Africa’s new, single authority for border management with a single command and control, was established through the Border Management Authority Act of 2020

Minister Motsoaledi

The BMA was currently operating as a section under his ministry and that it will be weaned off in April next year.

Minister Motsoaledi said the process will involve the integration of five streams of functions performed by government departments in that country.

These include Home Affairs; Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; and Health. The new force will carry out access control functions now conducted by members of the police in the ports of entry.

The BMA will tighten border management by implementing an integrated and coordinated approach in the border management environment

This is an improvement on the previous multi-agency approach comprising multiple authorities with different mandates

The BMA model, he said, will pave the way for the creation of smart border posts and systems and advance trade facilitation in the region.

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