Briefing by Department of Home Affairs and Border Management Authority (BMA) on their readiness for the festive season, update on progress on establishing BMA and Draft Regulations; with Ministry

Home Affairs

22 November 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Chabane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


The Border Management Agency Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner briefed the Committee on the readiness of all the ports of entry for the upcoming festive season. This includes staff from different departments to either be deployment or seconded to ports, the borderline or coastline. The necessary arrangements are also in place to ensure overtime is approved if the need arises.

Operational arrangements are in place to ensure extended hours, additional infrastructure and collaboration with stakeholders and neighbouring countries.

Consultations with other departments, neighbouring countries and freight forums were reported on, and the correction of previous weaknesses was addressed and plans that will, for example, assist with corridors and congestion were presented.

The Committee was briefed on the processes that were followed and progress around the finalisation of the regulations in terms of the Border Management Authority Act, 2020. Regulations were published for public comment and submitted to Parliament for approval.

The BMA briefed the Committee on the progress made around the Operationalisation of the Border Management Authority. The Committee was informed how many staff from other departments will be integrated into BMA, processes that were followed and will be followed, salary structures, ranks, and consultations that took place to ensure a smooth transition.

The uniforms, regalia, ranks and different section identification were presented to the Committee.

Minister Motsoaledi and the BMA management confirmed that everything is in place to ensure a safe and well-managed cross border process during the 2022/23 festive season.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed all present.

Presentation on Festive Season Operational Plan
The Border Management Authority (BMA) Commissioner, Dr Mike Masiapato, and BMA Deputy Commissioner, Major-General David Chilembe, briefed the Committee on the operational readiness of BMA for the festive season.

Key principles for the operational plan are to ensure sound collaboration with all stakeholders in the operational area including the authorities of neighbouring countries; SANDF along the borderline and customs. The enforcement of all RSA legislative and regulatory frameworks within the border environment and prevention and interception of all security threats posed to the state including any corrupt activities by border officials and travellers in the ports and borderline.

Operationally they facilitate the movement of legitimate traders and travellers by interdicting all potential violators in the border law enforcement area. They ensure that trade facilitation is not affected by the increase in passenger and light vehicle volumes and intercept all inadmissible goods and conveyances. The BMA ensures that commercial vehicles do not create an obstacle to passenger movement, controls the movement of all travellers entering and leaving South Africa and ensure all illegal movements across the borderline are intercepted.

The threat and risks assessments were compiled by a combination of intelligence agencies under border intelligence that included SSA, CI and Defence Intelligence. Frequent incidents have been reported during peak periods that impacted the integrity of border security.

The assessment includes both the ports of entry and the borderline and includes public health risks, personnel integrity challenges, smuggling, cross-border transportation and clearing agents.

(See details in attached documents)

The planning phase started as early as October 2022 and salient issues included finalisation, completion and consolidation of all ports’ plans into a national plan, request and approval from different departments, overtime budgets and approval of extended operational hours and the dissemination of the operational plans to accounting authorities.

Departments that were included in these arrangements for additional staff, or staff available for overtime, includes the Department of Home Affairs, SARS, SAPS, SANDF, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Department of Health, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and the Department of Health.

(See details in attached documents)

Maritime operations in seaports during the end-of-year peak season are mainly characterised by an increase in cruise liners visiting the South African shores. It is much needed economic activity for the country and it is for this reason that additional capacity, especially Immigration Services, is planned for.

Temporary infrastructure requested, that is, water, gazebos, temporary ablution etc.

(See details in attached documents)

The execution phase will start on 7 December 2022 until 11 January 2023. It will include daily operations as approved per the category of the port, ensuring that the sound collaboration with all stakeholders charged with border control including authorities of the neighbouring country and in the borderline to coordinate functions with the SANDF, SARS and the SAPS. Enforcement of legislative and regulatory frameworks within the port of entry, prevention and interception of all potential security threats, including corrupt activities. BMA will facilitate the legitimate movement of people and goods and ensure that the port is without congestion challenges by involving its counterparts.

Additional factors that need to be taken into consideration to ensure the execution of tasks at the different ports include the management of the corridors en route to the ports by enforcing the traffic regulations in conjunction with the traffic departments, the local police and the SANDF, management of the traffic contingencies for seamless traffic flow especially in the main commercial ports such as Beitbridge, Lebombo and Maseru Bridge. BMA will engage with all agencies responsible for traffic management and cross border movements and improve process flow by designating and segregating vehicle flows. They will also introduce proper signage, barricades and marshals.

The Committee was informed that incoming and outgoing passengers would be separated by dedicated counters for certain travellers, such as those from mines and contract workers. Daily joint operations will be conducted through the Venue Operational Centre (VOC) for efficient governance to monitor the implementation of the plan. Support services for the ICT system management will be available. There has been and will continue to be engagement with the trucking business on options for lesser truck movement during peak hours.

Overall command and control of all border operations will remain with the Deputy Commissioner of Operations
on behalf of the Commissioner BMA and the Department of Home Affairs Communication Unit will be responsible for Media Liaison regarding all joint operations.

An escalating protocol has been planned and will be communicated to all ports. The withdrawal of additional resources will commence on 12 January until the ports return to their normal capacity.

The Committee was informed that following the briefing to the Committee in August 2022 the have made significant progress around the operationalisation of BMA as a schedule 3(A) public entity.

Proclamations were signed, protocols were implemented, staff were managed around the movement to their new reporting line and salaries, posts were audited and further auditing will take place in 2023. Systems were put in place, functions were dissected and the necessary internal communication was done to ensure a smooth transition.

The Committee was briefed on deployment, ranks and symbols aimed at functionality, unity and ease of identification.

(See details in attached documents)

The staff integration will affect a total of 2010 staff members from different departments and the organigram of the head office was presented to the Committee. The proposed timeline aims to finalise the process in April 2023.

Adv Moses Malakate, BMA, informed the Committee that Regulation 2 of the draft regulations lists the heads of organs of state that will form part of the BTC.

Regulation 3 dealt with the short title and provided that “[T]hese Regulations are called the Border Technical Committee Regulations, 2022”. Regulation 4 deals with commencement and provides that “[T]hese Regulations commence on the date of publication hereof in the Gazette”.

Based on the process of developing Regulations, the Department requested a legal opinion from the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser (OCSLA), Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The Legal opinion dealt with the constitutionality of the draft Regulations, whether or not the draft regulations comply with the drafting style and the structure of the Regulations.

After incorporating the advice of the OCSLA, the Department revised the Regulations accordingly. The draft regulations, as approved by the Minister, were published for public comment in the Government Gazette and submitted to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of

It is anticipated that the draft Regulations will be finalised by the end of February 2023, well ahead of establishing the BMA as a Schedule 3A public entity.

Ms A Khanyile (DA) asked if the increase in staff over the festive season was discussed with the neighbouring countries and if they will implement the same measures. The temporary infrastructure requests include bottled water and water tanks. Why is this requested and do the ports not have tap water? She also asked what role the BMA will play concerning the non-existent fence or if they will only concentrate on the ports.

Mr A Roos (DA) wished the BMA well with their task over the festive season. In light of the number of trucks at the borders, he asked if the infrastructure requests are sufficient to provide to people further down the line and if provision was made for holding areas away from the border to avoid some congestion. He asked if the rest of the borderline would be left exposed with all staff concentrating on the ports and how border guards’ performance is measured.

It was presented that the national office will consist of 30 staff members. Are these now staff or were they moved from other departments? He asked what the arrangements between the coastal patrol and BMA were, and how salary structures would be affected by the movement of staff. He also asked who would be responsible for the Regional Information Systems.

Ms M Modise (ANC) also asked if arrangements were in place with the border control counterparts in other countries. She asked if the additional human resources at the border would incur additional costs and who would carry them.

The Chairperson asked if the discussions with the Minister of Justice were finalised around the availability of budget related to staff over the festive season. He also expressed his concern that no mention was made of the current discussions and international agreements between the Limpopo government and Zimbabwe, specifically around Beitbridge. Also going forward, the demobilisation will be informed by resource allocations when BMA is established. What is the long term plan and how sustainable is it? Has there been an assessment of weaknesses and what can be done to improve?

Commissioner Masiapato agreed that there was a need for engagement with all stakeholders. He informed the Committee that they have regular engagements with the inter-ministerial team to ensure cooperation. He indicated that one of the problems is that different truck stops give different prices to different companies. They therefore had meetings with Freight Fora to reduce truck volumes and therefore reduce congestion.

One of the problems that were identified was the control of corridors. Corridors are management - it will be improved and will therefore be helpful to the flow at border posts.

The BMA was part of the discussions around the specialised economy zone between Limpopo and Zimbabwe and plans were provided to redesign the ports of entry.

He informed the Committee that the integration of staff would take place on similar salary scales. As staff will come from other government departments this will be possible. The highest position that will be integrated is a director and majority of the staff will be on levels 8 and 9. They are working with labour to ensure all transfers will be smooth.

Ms Jane Thupana, BMA Deputy Commissioner: Corporate Services, informed the Committee that all staff that are transferred must move on the same salary level. If there is a more senior position, it must be opened for application. New positions created were to make BMA functional and integrated staff will be for frontline positions. Back-office functions are shared departmental services.

Maj-Gen Chilembe informed the Committee that there had been interaction with their counterparts in neighbouring countries. However, close attention must be paid to the jurisdiction of both sides and the staff involved.

Long queues of trucks are one of the main challenges as well as situations like picketing. The Public Order Police will deal with picketing. The SANDF members that will be deployed will assist with the borderline.

Different entities are involved in the protection and monitoring of the coastline. BMA will be the coordinating entity. Exchange visits between the US Coastguard and South Africa have just been completed.

Maj-Gen Chilembe is in agreement with the Committee members that the two sides of a border post should have the same procedures in place. Bi-laterals with the different countries were held to achieve this.

He confirmed that staff seconded and deployed from other departments would remain the financial obligation of that department and no additional cost would be incurred by BMA. Close supervision will take place to prevent corrupt border guards from operating. Attention will be paid to command and control through effective deployment. It was confirmed that BMA would continue with a multi-agency approach after “break-up” to continue good working relationships.

Dr Masiapato indicated the BMA would attend to the whole borderline, not only the ports. He also confirmed that the additional infrastructure would be issued to the corridors, not only at the ports.

The final integration letter just awaited the signature of the CFO to ensure the necessary budgetary provisions are catered for. Allocation letters will be issued shortly. Staff will be held accountable to the normal government performance management and performance agreements will be signed.

Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, indicated that only one person died at a border post during the previous festive season, not four as indicated by the media. No other deaths could be confirmed and the one fatality was confirmed to have been due to old age and existing ailments.

He said that although there are working agreements with neighbouring countries, delays are sometimes on the neighbouring side. This happens when South Africa’s customs are automated and the custom systems in Mozambique are dealt with manually, for example.

He asked Committee members to understand what impact trade agreements have and what controls the Department has to resolve matters. The purpose of trade agreements is to eliminate tariffs and that has nothing to do with the work of the Department of Home Affairs. It is to liberalise trade and services, and cooperate on investment and intellectual property rights and on trade-related matters, all of which fall in the domain of Treasury and Economic Development. It also involves cooperation on customs that belong under SARS. BMA will only implement such agreements.

The Committee Secretary reminded Members about upcoming business of the Committee. A joint meeting is scheduled with the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy regarding the ZamaZamas at 9am on Friday.

On 29 November, there is a meeting scheduled on gender equality.

The Select Committee on Security and Justice intended to consider the Electoral Amendment Bill on 23 November and finalise the Bill on 29 November.

Correspondence about muslim marriages legislation was received and sent to Members.
The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: