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South Africa’s leader unveils plan to deal with porous borders

Cyril Ramaphosa said the issue posed a threat to his country’s national security and economy

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the recently launched Border Management Authority (BMA) is necessary for maintaining the integrity of the country’s borders amidst criticism from the United Nations office on drugs and crime.

Ramaphosa, writing in his weekly newsletter on Monday, said ensuring the country’s borders are well-managed and well-protected is key to security and development.

South Africa’s land border is over 4,800km long and is shared with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe.


The country has 53 land ports of entry, 11 international airports, and eight seaports. The BMA has recruited hundreds of border guards to protect these entry points along with the defense force.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2023 World Drug Report, released in June, revealed that South Africa had become an important transit route for organized criminal networks involved in human trafficking, drugs and small arms smuggling, and other forms of cross-border crime.

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The report also noted that South Africa, the economic powerhouse of the region, continues to attract economic migrants who are undocumented, especially from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.


Ramaphosa said the government was cognisant of the need to uphold the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers under international conventions while protecting the country’s borders from organized criminal networks. 

“(This) places strain on already stretched resources and public services and fuels social instability. We have in recent times seen anti-foreigner sentiment resulting in acts of violence and harassment.”

He said all acts of violence against foreign nationals, regardless of immigration status, must be collectively condemned. 

“Those who have sought refuge in South Africa or wish to live and work here are subject to immigration regulations and must adhere to the country’s laws,” Ramaphosa said.


Last week, Ramaphosa and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa inspected the Beitbridge border post to improve the efficiency of the main border post between the two countries. 

October 10, 2023 at 06:19PM

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