News24 – 8 June 2022
- The Department of Home Affairs says it is not targeting migrants from the African continent.
- Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi attempted to dispel the notion that migrants from European countries were not investigated.
- MPs in the National Council of Provinces have raised concerns about the apparent targeting of African migrants.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has attempted to dispel the notion that his department mainly focuses on African migrants and not those from European countries.
This is contained in a report of the National Council of Provinces’ Select Committee on Security and Justice on its evaluation of the 2022-’23 home affairs department budget vote and annual performance plan.
The long queues at home affairs offices, digitising documents, border security, and immigration issues were some of the main challenges MPs highlighted.
The committee also raised concerns that it was not receiving reports on the arrests of illegal migrants.
Furthermore, committee members were concerned that the department mainly focused on African migrants and not those from European countries.
“The minister responded that due to the nature of investigations, the information is not always forthcoming, but they are doing work behind the scenes discreetly. The minister also wanted to correct the wrong perception that they are only chasing illegal migrants from the African continent,” the report read.
The report added:
As a result of the 2010 World Cup legacy project, any flight from any country, 24 hours before arrival, has to send a list of all passengers, and they are stopped before coming to South African borders. The department does not solely focus on African illegal immigrants.
Last month, Motsoaledi admitted that South Africa’s immigration system needed a complete overhaul.
He conceded that only 13 officials dealt with an avalanche of corruption cases that were borne out of immigration offences.
But he gave an assurance that 12 new staff members would be added to the department’s counter-corruption unit, including analysts, researchers and investigators.
Last month, a senior Department of Home Affairs official was dismissed for approving the permanent residency application of self-proclaimed prophet and fugitive Shepherd Bushiri.
Bushiri, his wife, Mary, and three others are accused of fraud involving around R102 million.
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At the time of their bail hearing, home affairs officials suggested that the Bushiris should be considered a flight risk and denied bail. However, they were granted R200 000 bail each.
In 2020, the Bushiris fled to Malawi.
Meanwhile, MPs also wanted an update on the progress and challenges related to the implementation of the Border Management Authorities (BMA).
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Motsoaledi responded that the BMA was a branch that was still incubated in the department, and work was under way to make it a stand-alone entity by April next year.
“The BMA Act provides for nine ministers to be part of an inter-ministerial committee selected by the president. The BMA is going to bring government departments together. Those police officers at the border posts reporting to SAPS will have to choose whether to be transferred to BMA. The proclamation allows the president to transfer certain functions from one minister to another, and the president may transfer staff.
“Department of Health officials will also be transferred to BMA. No transfers will be made from the South African National Defence Force or SA Revenue Service. Implementation protocols will determine the collaboration with BMA in terms of the working arrangements,” he said.