Over 5 million travellers processed over festive season, says agency

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Border Management Authority (BMA) announced on Sunday that it processed over five million travellers through South African borders over the festive period. 

“The 2023/2024 festive season was a remarkable time where a noticeable increase in the movement of persons and goods entering and exiting the Republic of South Africa was experienced,” said Commissioner of the BMA, Dr Mike Masiapato.  

He said between 6 December 2023 and 18 January 2024, the agency lawfully processed 5 096 288 travellers across 71 ports of entry.

The latest data shows a one million increase in travellers compared to 2022/2023.

“However, this number of travellers is still one million less than the pre-COVID-19 average numbers of about six million travellers.” 

Of the 5 096 288 travellers, 216 594 used private vehicles, 21 502 mini-bus taxis, 6 443 buses and 55 765 trucks through the movement control system. 

In total, more than 13 050 aircraft were processed at international airports and approximately 709 vessels at seaports.

About 407 vessels underwent crew changes using the off-port limit mechanism in the maritime environment.

According to the data, OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) served the largest number of travellers, which was around 993 759.

The Lebombo land port of entry to Mozambique came second with 755 066 visitors, followed by the Beitbridge land port of entry to Zimbabwe with 745 563 travellers.

Compared to the 2022/2023 festive period, ORTIA, Lebombo, and Beitbridge recorded an increase in traveller volume of 22%, 24%, and 25%, respectively.

“As you may recall, we increased our human resource capacity and the operating hours in some selected ports of entry which do not operate on a 24-hour basis.” 

The BMA mandate is to facilitate and manage the legitimate movement of people and goods across 71 ports of entry of which 52 are land, 10 are international airports and nine are seaports.

Their work covers areas of immigration, port health, environmental and agricultural biosecurity, including access control and general law enforcement at the ports of entry and border law enforcement areas.    

“Although our primary job as the BMA is to facilitate the legitimate movement of people, we also have to deal with individuals who attempt to illegitimately move through our ports of entry and the border law enforcement areas.” 

He told the media that the agency detected about 15 924 individuals who were attempting to enter South Africa without requisite documentation. 

“In this instance, after intercepting them, we took their fingerprints, declared them undesirable and banned them from re-entering South Africa for five years and kept the record in the Biometric Movement Control System and got them deported,” he explained. 

The majority of interceptions occurred at the Lebombo land port of entry with 6 808, followed by 1 891 at the Beitbridge land port of entry. 

Meanwhile, 6,455 travellers were denied entry into South Africa for being undesirable, including those who committed crimes in other countries and appeared on the Interpol red list.

In addition, about 4 626 travellers were refused entry for being for having invalid passports, fraudulent visas or failing to produce valid yellow fever certificates. 

This means 27 005 people were deported while attempting to enter South Africa illegally. 

During this period, the agency also observed an increased detection rate of the undesirables due to the utilisation of the Biometric Movement Control Systems (BMCS). 

The Commissioner raised his concern at public transporting companies that continue to transport illegal migrants.  

During this period, the BMA imposed about 98 administrative fines to various conveyancers especially bus companies to the value of R3 540 000 for transporting illegal migrants at the cost of R15 000 per person. 

At the same time, they collected about R9.8 million in outstanding fines from about 25 bus companies. 

“In this regard, they have committed to ensuring that valid passports would be required from all travellers when procuring cross border tickets and for entering into the bus on travel day.” – SAnews.gov.za