BMA to safeguard SA’s borders

BMA to safeguard SA’s borders

The newly established Border Management Authority (BMA) Commissioner, Dr Mike Masiapata, has assured South Africans that the entity will get rid of corruption and ensure that the country’s borders are safe.

The BMA came into effect on 1 April 2023, and it is expected to be officially launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Musina, Limpopo, next week.

Masiapata explained that the BMA was established to ensure that the country is protected.

Speaking at the National Press Club media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday, Masiapata said legislative frameworks had to be looked at prior to the establishment of the BMA.

“Since 1994, South Africa has been using a multi-agency approach in its border management. It was therefore decided that a single agency was needed to manage the country’s borders,” Masiapata said.

Masiapata said the previous multi-agency included seven departments and agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment; Health; Home Affairs; the South African National Defence Force (SANDF); the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which all have a physical presence in the border environment.

Masiapata said managing the country’s borders has been a challenge, especially with the old system.

He explained that the aim of establishing the new agency was to deal with the challenges that the country faces.

“For almost 15 years, there have been some discussions to try and have the Border Management Authority established to deal with the challenges the country is faced with. There was a lot of corruption brought by the old system,” Masiapata said.

Masiapata said BMA officials will be thoroughly vetted.

The BMA has, since its inception, recorded successes, amongst them intercepting stolen vehicles.

In June 2013, Cabinet made the decision to establish a Border Management Agency under the guidance of the DHA.

The decision was taken in recognition of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee  (NICOC) 2012 Feasibility Study, which had highlighted weaknesses in border management.

The authority will be responsible for the execution of frontline border law enforcement functions related to, inter alia, port health, immigration control, access control, biosecurity, food safety and phyto-sanitary control, land border infrastructure development and maintenance, and border information and risk management.

It is intended that the new agency, the BMA, will adapt and respond effectively to the challenges, threats and opportunities that exist in the border environment whilst safe-guarding South Africa’s borders and meeting the country’s national, regional and global developmental responsibilities and human rights imperatives. –