Land, air or sea, SA's borders vulnerable

2011-11-08 22:39
Cape Town - South Africa's 4 800km of land border fences remain vulnerable, SA Revenue Service commissioner Oupa Magashule told MPs on Tuesday.

"Our borderline fences are vulnerable, radar coverage of our airspace is insufficient and our vast maritime border is under-patrolled," Magashule told Parliament's portfolio committee on police.

He said nearly 32 million people moved in and out of South Africa's borders in 2010, with the bulk of foreign travellers - 8.3 million - arriving by road.

This saw an average of 600 trucks a day moving through the Beit Bridge and Lebombo border posts.

In the past year, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) had seized contraband, drugs and undeclared goods worth R1bn in about 20 000 operations.

But the ports of entry were still plagued by corruption and poor security.

According to a submission by the department of home affairs, the number of foreigners settling in South Africa's border areas had grown rapidly.

Surveys showed that some 80% of these people were in the country illegally and 43% were unemployed.

Their presence drew more foreigners from South Africa's neighbouring states and often contributed to security problems along the borders, the committee heard.

Cultural similarities meant the migrants were often difficult to identify as foreigners.

Magashule said the answer to porous borders lay in better co-ordination between customs, the police, the defence force, the justice department, home affairs, the intelligence services and international relations.

To this end, the Inter Agency Clearing Forum (IACF) - established last year with a view to the 2010 FIFA World Cup - had continued its co-operation in an informal fashion beyond the soccer tournament.

A proposal had now been submitted to Cabinet to formalise the IACF and to strengthen the structures of the various departments playing a role in border security, Magashule said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sars
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