South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi Motsoaledi, has said border guards were trained and deployed to various land border law enforcement areas and ports of entry to detect and prevent illegal entry into South Africa.
He made the remarks in response to Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) parliamentarian, Liezl van der Merwe, who wanted to know about measures to address the growing number of undocumented foreign nationals in South Africa.
Liezl van der Merwe has raised concerns about South Africa’s high murder rate and has previously expressed concerns about neighbouring countries having easy access to the country. Motsoaledi said in his written response:
Illegal foreign nationals who are apprehended in the border law enforcement area are handed over to Immigration Services who do verification of their nationality. Once the process is concluded, the deportation process will be initiated.
Motsoaledi stated that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) inspectorate unit coordinates with the police to locate illegal immigrants. When apprehended, their status is verified, and if found to be undocumented or illegal, the process of deportation is initiated.
He said the DHA will use handheld “IT tools” with biometric capabilities to remotely access and verify information on the National Population Register (NPR) during citizenship-related operations. The procurement of these tools was financed through the Criminal Asset Recovery (CARA) fund.
Last year in March, Motsoaledi informed the same IFP parliamentarian that the government does not have an exact number of undocumented immigrants in South Africa due to the secretive nature of being in the country illegally.
Different studies have provided varying unverifiable figures, ranging from three to six million or more. According to Statistics SA, there are 3.95 million foreign nationals in South Africa, regardless of their status.
People may illegally enter South Africa for various reasons, including economic opportunities, political instability or persecution or justice in their home countries. South Africa is considered a relatively stable and prosperous country compared to many of its neighbours, and it attracts many migrants from across the region.