Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said the new guards will do duty at what he said are “five identified problematic segments” on South Africa’s more than four thousand seven hundred kilometres of land border.
He also confirmed South Africa now has three “uniformed statutory law enforcement forces” with the first 200 border guards in service as of last week.
Speaking at the Beitbridge port of entry where he oversaw the public debut of the guards set to be the sharp point of the Border Management Authority (BMA), Motsoaledi pointed out the number of border guards will increase – without giving an indication of the expected total strength or when it will be reached.
The new additions join the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and SA Police Service (SAPS) as those in uniform empowered by statute to enforce the law.
They are Beitbridge with Zimbabwe; Lebombo and Kosi Bay with Mozambique, and Maseru Bridge with Lesotho.
These ports of entry, Motsoaledi said, were identified as “vulnerable” in the 10 segments making up the total South Africa land border as decided by the BMA, at present still incubated in the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) from which it will leave next April to become a Schedule 3A standalone entity.
Elaborating he said the longest land border segment is between South Africa and Botswana at more than 1 500 km.
“There are no problems there. So we are not going to deploy there. We are monitoring it and we will act accordingly if any problems arise”. The same applies to the next longest stretch – 960 km between Namibia and South Africa.
“We are determined to make our borders less porous. There must be some semblance of normality that people must know they can be caught, be deported and declared undesirable.”
On the potential for bribery and corruption, Motsoaledi told the newcomers to South Africa’s security forces they will be watched “with a hawk’s eye because we understand temptation comes with the job”.
Overseeing the fledgling authority is an inter-ministerial committee where all government departments involved in border integrity, protection and security are represented.
In addition to Motsoaledi’s home affairs department, they are Defence and Military Veterans; Police; State Security; Transport; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Environment, Forestry and Fisheries; Trade, Industry and Competition; Health and Finance.