Efforts to protect the SA border against rising cross-border crimes have been undermined by lack of financial and man power capacity
The resurrected xenophobic attacks carried out in most part of the South African country alongside numerous cross-border crimes brings to light the weak state of the SA border as concerned citizens’ call on government to look into ways to enhance security measures.
President Jacob Zuma was on Tuesday, while paying a visit to the eManguzi in the far north of KwaZulu-Natal, told that the SA army does not have the money or manpower to step up security of the country’s porous borders.
According to the state Defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, 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.
Mapisa-Nqakula also told Zuma during the tour around the country’s Mozambican and Swaziland borders, that though her department has prioritized the border issues, financial and human resources were crippling their efforts.
“We do everything but we always hit a snag when it comes to finances. There are huge expectations from us but budget cuts remain a problem. Our force guarding and patrolling the border has been cut down by about 4000‚” she said, adding that the issue has been highlighted in the Defence Review‚ which talks about the rejuvenation of the SA forces. But fiscal decisions were hampering their work.
In reply to this, the president said he has received complaints from residents living in the municipalities around the borders and that most of the complaints laid were about the intolerable levels of cross-border crimes which include stock theft and car hijackings, among many others.
Zuma encouraged the defence department effort to maintain SA security and asked if governments of the neighboring countries were collaborating with them in the effort.
Mapisa-Nqakula replied by saying: “The joint collaborations appear to be on our side only. As I speak‚ three of our members were arrested in Mozambique and it took us a long time to negotiate their release‚”
Zuma inspected the border as he interacted with locals and Mozambican security personnel across the fence. He also said the Department of Planning‚ Monitoring and Evaluation had been directed to monitor progress in the fight against crime in the areas that he had visited.
Among the ministers accompanying Zuma were David Mahlobo of state security‚ Faith Muthambi of communication‚ deputy police minister Maggie Sotyu‚ KZN Premier Willies Mchunu‚ and KZN MEC for transport‚ community safety and liaison Mxolisi Kaunda.
As chair of government’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula maintains establishment of an integrated Border Management Authority (BMA) will help in improving border management at the country’s 72 legal points of entry and exit.
Part of the cluster’s mandate, constitutionally, is to create conditions where all South African citizens “are and feel safe”.
The establishment of the BMA is expected to be finalized before the year runs out and the minister told a media briefing in Pretoria on that it would ensure compliance with laws and the South African constitution by both citizens and foreign nationals taking ‘a whole of state’ approach.
This would apply to concerns raised by communities and promote better dialogue on policing between communities and authorities, she said.