Following moves to clamp down on the increasing cross-border crimes in the country, SA government plans to build a wall along parts of the Mozambique and Swaziland borders near Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal.
KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Belinda Scott confirmed this at an event in Durban on Friday. She said the KZN government is in full support of the wall building which according to her, will help curb cross-border crimes.
Describing the kind of wall to be built, the KZN MEC said the wall is not a “Trump Wall”, but large concrete barriers of about two metres high each.
“We are tired of the cross-border crime,” said MEC Belinda who also noted that people, including tourists, were getting killed and attacked from vehicle hijackings and stock thefts. In addition, wildlife was being poached.
Explaining why building the border walls was necessary, Scott said the intention was not to stop people from crossing the border, but to stop illegal vehicular travel between the countries as protecting citizens on the border was not the duties of the provincial government, but the province intended to “take the lead” in a R120 million project to erect New Jersey Barriers along certain areas of the border.
Scott also said an 80 km stretch of the border had been identified where most of the illegal crossings are made, of which a 25 km stretch was the most commonly used by the criminals.
She said they hoped to recoup the money for the project from the Department of Home Affairs, which would also have to maintain the barriers, while the plan was for the SANDF to patrol it.
The decision to build a wall against increased cross-border crimes comes at the time the state’s defence department laments its inability to protect the border because it lacks financial capacity to do so.
President Jacob Zuma was told so by the defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, during his visit to the eManguzi in the far north of KwaZulu-Natal.
The minister said the increased cross-border crimes that have created heightened tensions between residents and migrants from neighboring countries can not be easily addressed because the military is ill-equipped.
Meanwhile, Andrew McGill, economist from the Graham Muller & Associates consultancy, said recent projects carried out along the border, it was evident “there is real anger out there in communities” about cross-border crime.
KZN Treasury fiscal resource management senior manager Nelisiwe Shezi said national government had once committed to deal with cross-border crime through the establishment of a border management authority, but nothing had happened in this respect over 10 years.
He said the R48 million committed to improve border safety in this year’s provincial budget was not enough to tackle the issue. “However, we are saying, let us make a start on this.”
Scott on the other hand, said Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s budget was falling because Ezemvelo had “too many greenies and too few economists” and the organisation was almost entirely reliant on government financial support.
“Everything is about biodiversity and nothing about eco-tourism” and some of its projects “are not very good” in terms of making the organisation more “self-sustaining”, she said.
She said Ezemvelo was competing for funding against other departments providing vital social delivery services in a very constrained fiscal environment.