Integrated approach needed to manage SA-Zimbabwe border: Parliament

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An integrated approach is needed to ensure efficiency in managing the Beitbridge port of entry on the border with Zimbabwe, parliament’s committee on security and justice said on Thursday.

In a statement, the committee said a tour of the port of entry on Wednesday revealed several challenges, including poor road conditions and human resources constraints faced by the departments involved in managing the border, including home affairs, the national defence force and the police service.

The port services an average of 30 000 trucks, 40 000 light motor vehicles and 10 000 buses a month.

“The committee noted the vast infrastructural challenges relating to poor road conditions, human resources challenges faced by the departments and the issues around the almost non-existent border fence,” it said.

“Officials from the Boarder Management Authority requested that the committee assist by asking the department of public works to prioritise these issues, which pose a particular challenge to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that has to patrol an area stretching up to 1 000 kilometres.”

It said it had heard from officials that as the SANDF budget and human resources were not adequate, the redeployment of personnel from Namibia to Beitbridge could be an option to investigate.

It also noted the view that the illegal crossing on the South African borders was not necessarily what contributed to the large number of undocumented foreign nationals in the country, but rather that those who entered through legal channels overstayed their visas.

“The committee notes that there’s an attempt to coordinate government processes, but the manner of operation between the 10 departments operating at the border remains fragmented,” chairwoman Shahidabibi Shaikh said.