Mpumalanga – Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Njabulo Nzuza last week made an inspection visit to the Lebombo border to assess the progress made by the Immigration Department in addressing the challenges faced by migrants from Mozambique.
The tour is part of a wider effort to ensure smoother processing of travellers between South Africa and its neighbours.
The tour comes after the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs resolved to visit Lebombo and Beitbridge to assess progress to challenges that led to delays.
Home Affairs Portfolio Committee chairperson and ANC legislator Bongani Bongo said: “The committee was concerned by the conditions travellers faced at the borders which posed both humanitarian and health risks. This was meant to interact with the departments operating at the ports of entry to ascertain if resolutions have been found to challenges faced at these sites.”
The Home Affairs committee called for an engagement with countries within the Southern Development Community (Sadc) to develop a blueprint that will ensure smooth and efficient crossing at the borders.
“The meeting got an update on engagements with neighbouring countries especially regarding cooperation at the ports of entry,” said Bongo.
The committee also sought answers from the Department of Home Affairs on its progress on operationalising the Border Management Authority (BMA) following the signing of the BMA Act into law last July.
“We have always been of the view that the BMA would be a vehicle by which challenges faced at the ports of entry are resolved, thus we need to ascertain progress in establishing this agency,” said Bongo.
Sources at Lebombo border told Newsworth that the festive rush saw officials being overwhelmed and this created an ideal environment for criminality like human trafficking and smuggling.
Travellers welcomed the visit.
A long-distance trucker who preferred anonymity said: “If problems we face at Lebombo as truckers are fixed, everything will go smooth with our work of transporting goods. It is only that many promises are made by officials concerning these borders and also to us travelers but change is hardly noticeable.”
Anna, a 30-year-old migrant from eSwatini who doubles as a waitress and adult entertainer at a popular night club in Emalahleni said, “It is good that they are trying to solve the challenges at the border but at the same time, it will be difficult for us to cross the border without proper documents as we are always used to, we need to feed our families and Covid-19 is making it even worse for us.”