Home Affairs urged to procure protective equipment

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Department of Home Affairs has been directed to urgently procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline officials.

This follows visits by members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to various Home Affairs offices across the country.

It was reported that a number of offices, especially in the Limpopo, Western Cape and Mpumalanga provinces were closed, due to the shortage of PPEs and thermometers.

PPE equipment is required to ensure that frontline officials are able to deliver services in a safe environment.

In addition, PPE forms part of the necessary and required tools used in adhering to the Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) protocols in fighting COVID-19.

Chairperson of the committee, Advocate Bongani Bongo emphasised the importance of procuring personal protective equipment using National Treasury Instruction No.05 of 2020/21, which sets out emergency procurement procedures in response to the National State of Disaster.

“The major preoccupation of the committee is to ensure that Home Affairs offices are open and that people get identity documents that are required to access the recently announced social assistance interventions by the state,” said Bongo on Thursday.  

Despite the closure of some of the offices, the committee welcomed a report that the work of issuing death certificates, to enable families to bury their loved, ones was done.

Automated Biometric Information System

The committee has also raised concerns on the capacity challenges experienced by the department in its information and communications technology (ICT) branch.

The committee emphasised that the implementation of the Automated Biometric Information System and e-Visa regime is dependent on the department with a state-of-the-art information services branch.

The committee said the department, together with the State Information Technology Agency must heighten their work towards resolving the connectivity challenges that have impacted on service delivery.

It said that this will have a direct impact on the implementation of innovative information technology interventions.

“The implementation of the e-visa regime will be necessary when the country’s tourism sector kick-starts after the lockdown, a move which will be essential as a post-lockdown economic recovery strategy.”

“The end of the lockdown period presents an opportunity for the department to implement the e-visa system and contribute positively to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Bongo said. 

Border Management Agency

Regarding the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, the committee welcomed the commitment to the incremental establishment and operationalisation of the Border Management Agency (BMA) intended to secure the borders of the country.

“The committee, since its inception, highlighted the significance of the BMA for coordination of the management of South Africa’s ports of entry, and as a tool for the security of borders.”

Action on Lindela Repatriation Centre

Meanwhile, the committee has welcomed the swift action by Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, in dealing with the contracted security company at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, where 37 illegal foreigners have escaped.

 “The committee welcomes the suspension by the private company of the security guards that are alleged to have left early from work. The committee has committed to visit Lindela Centre to listen to the concerns alleged to be raised by detainees at the centre,” said Bongo. – SAnews.gov.za