Monograph 57: The Challenge to Control South Africa`s Borders and Borderline, Ettienne Hennop, Clare Jefferson and Andrew Mclean
The aim of this research project was to establish
how effective South African border control mechanisms are in preventing
the illegal smuggling or movement of firearms across South Africa’s
international land borders. The research consisted of an analysis of the
existing border controls initiatives, an analysis of two case studies
of border areas and an opinion survey among police members at South
Africa’s 52 land border posts.
Firearm-related crime is increasing at alarming rates in South
Africa. Some illegal firearms enter the South African market as a result
of smuggling activities across borders. However, the majority of
firearms entering the illegal pool in the country do not originate from
outside South Africa.
The analyses undertaken during the course of this study and the
opinion survey demonstrated that illegal firearms, as well as
crossborder crimes involving drugs, illegal immigrants, contraband and
vehicles, are of concern to the South African government, the South
African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Home Affairs, the South
African Revenue Service (SARS), the South African National Defence
Force (SANDF) and non-governmental organisation (NGOs) alike.
The findings of the research can be summarised as follows:
- There is substantial interest in improving border control in South Africa both from a national and an international perspective.
- There is substantial interest from
the private sector to assist the SAPS and the SANDF in strengthening
their capabilities with a view to improve the successful combat of
- Structures have been in place for
some time now to facilitate co-operation between the different
government departments involved in border control on South Africa’s
international borders. Although this collective approach has been
followed for nearly six years, problems are still experienced such as a
lack of proper communication on all levels.
- South Africa loses revenue as a result of border crimes that lead to the non-payment of duties.
- Crossborder crimes happen at will, including the illegal smuggling of firearms, across South African borders.
- Border posts are understaffed and
some even lack the basic facilities to undertake effective border
policing such as facsimile machines, a consistent electricity supply,
proper living quarters for police/customs/immigration officers, vehicles
and proper search and storage facilities.
- There is a lack of communication
between the agencies working in the same field, resulting in the loss of
valuable information on crime and crime syndicates.
- There is a lack of trust between
the agencies involved in border control at ground level, resulting in
accusations of corruption.
- Corruption is a fact that needs to be dealt with immediately.
- The existing border control
structure created to act as a co-ordination agency between the different
departments involved is not reaching ground level.
- New initiatives to address problem areas and conditions at border posts are welcomed.