Border security still a headache for police

18 June 2015 - 02:02 By Jan-Jan Joubert

The SA Police Service yesterday told parliament the country had failed to solve border control and border security problems. Top police officials told the portfolio committee on police that six years after President Jacob Zuma announced the formation of an all-encompassing border management agency, this had still not happened.It is unclear whether it ever will because of questions about whether it would remain an agency or take the form of a ministry or government department. I t is envisioned the entity would have policing duties but the constitution states that South Africa can only have one police force - the SAPS."Coordination mechanisms have proved incapable of addressing the systemic and structural management problems affecting effective border management and border security in the country," the submission by the officials states."Various national intelligence estimates have pointed to significant weaknesses, threats and challenges in the border environment in South Africa."The admissions come at a time when new visa regulations have placed the spotlight on immigration control.The new regulations require travelling children to carry unabridged birth certificates and identify specific areas in which travellers can apply for visas to visit the country.Top police officials were frank in admitting that problems still persist.These included the fact that the responsibility for the border management agency had been passed around various government departments - it presently resides in the Department of Home Affairs.The biggest problem with the establishment of the agency relates to the disparate specialities housed under it, including immigration control, customs, border safeguarding and surveillance, inspection of plants and plant products, border policing, inspection of animals and animal foodstuffs, and human health inspection.If the agency were to ever come into operation, all of these aspects would be brought under the new entity, moving away from government departments currently employing such specialists...

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