South Africa’s leader unveils plan to deal with porous borders

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In the face of criticism from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated the recently established Border Management Authority (BMA) is important for safeguarding the integrity of the country’s borders.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa stated that ensuring the country’s borders are well-managed and well-protected is critical to security and development.

South Africa shares a land border with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe that stretches for almost 4,800 kilometres.

There are 53 land ports of entry, 11 international airports, and eight seaports in the country. Along with the defence force, the BMA has recruited hundreds of border guards to protect these access locations.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2023 World Drug Report, released in June, revealed that South Africa had become an important transit route for organized criminal networks involved in human trafficking, drugs and small arms smuggling, and other forms of cross-border crime.

The research also stated that South Africa, the area’s economic powerhouse, continues to attract illegal economic migrants, particularly from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Ramaphosa stated that the government recognises the need of upholding the rights of refugees and asylum seekers under international agreements while also securing the country’s borders from organised criminal networks.

“(This) strains already overburdened resources and public services and exacerbates social instability.” Anti-foreigner hostility has recently resulted in incidents of violence and harassment.”

He stated that any acts of aggression against foreign nationals, regardless of immigration status, should be denounced jointly.

“Those who have sought refuge in South Africa or wish to live and work here must comply with immigration laws.”