News24 – 20 June 2022
- Eight illegal foreigners were arrested at OR Tambo International Airport for attempting to enter South Africa though a fire hydrant.
- Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi says because South Africa does not have transit visas, that has made it easy for illegal foreigners to make their way into the country.
- The department plans to reinforce transit visas following the incident.
The Department of Home Affairs plans to reinforce transit visas after eight illegal foreigners were arrested at OR Tambo International Airport for attempting to enter South Africa though a fire hydrant on Wednesday.
They entered a network of tunnels via a fire hydrant, officials said.
The four illegal Bangladeshi and four illegal Pakistani nationals allegedly arrived on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha.
The incident prompted Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula to visit the airport.
According to Motsoaledi, because South Africa does not have transit visas, that has made it easy for illegal foreigners to make their way illegally into the country.
“This is what they do… and I think they are starting to abuse it,” he said.
Motsoaledi said recently, there has been an increase in the number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani citizens who come via Qatar Airways, a route used to go to Lesotho or Eswatini – which is where these illegal foreigners were going.
In this case, OR Tambo is used as a transit point, he said.
Motsoaledi said those who were supposed to move through to the transit lounge to go to the country they were supposed to go to did not do so.
According to Motsoaledi, the foreigners, who were en route to the transit lounge, would then decide to take a detour.
“The police officer who is part of the security at the airport noticed and followed the foreign nationals.
“One of them was holding a phone, which meant they were being directed through the airport because they do not know it, as they are not from here,” said Motsoaledi.
Crime in SA
He said the foreigners were found entering the fire hydrants at the airport.
The minister explained these fire hydrants have passages inside the pipes that the illegal foreigners intended to use to exit the airport.
“But they were caught.
“When I got there, I called state security because I wanted them to be interrogated thoroughly because we wanted to know what that operation was all about and we also wanted to know why this type of thing is happening now,” said Motsoaledi.
When the foreigners were interrogated by state security, Motsoaledi discovered that in 2018, Home Affairs stopped transit visas meaning it was not required when traveling through South Africa.
“If we had not caught the foreign nationals in time ,they would have continued to go through to Eswatini or even Mozambique,” he said.
The minister also noted that the eight illegal foreigners were questioned by the state security for almost eight hours and they now have all the necessary information surrounding this incident.