The new South African Border Management Authority (BMA) has been cracking down on illegal border crossings. Since starting operations on April 1st, they have arrested over 35,000 people trying to enter the country without proper documentation.
The majority of those arrested have been from neighboring Zimbabwe. The BMA identified the Beitbridge border post as a major hotspot for illegal crossings. Beitbridge marks part of the nearly 250km border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Other busy ports of entry where significant numbers of undocumented migrants have been intercepted include Maseru Bridge on the border with Lesotho and the Lebombo border post with Mozambique.
Speaking to a local news station, BMA Commissioner Michael Masiapato expressed confidence in the organization’s ability to better secure South Africa’s land borders. However, he acknowledged the long stretch shared with Zimbabwe presents unique challenges due to large historical migration patterns between the two countries.
On October 5th, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will officially launch the BMA at the Beitbridge border during a ceremony. The event underscores the high priority the government is placing on border security and control.
Masiapato hopes the newly formed BMA will help manage migration in a sustainable way and curb illegal crossings. For many Zimbabweans and others from neighbouring nations, South Africa represents an escape from socioeconomic hardships at home. Its strong market and job opportunities are persistent magnets for millions seeking opportunity.
However, the high volume of migration has also tested South Africa’s public services and infrastructure. Some senior officials argue it exacerbates unemployment and social tensions for local populations. Only time will tell what impact the new border crackdown will have on these complex dynamics.