Home Affairs would implement tight security measures at the country’s borders during the festive season, Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said on Sunday.
He was addressing the media in Hatfield, where he announced the capacity of staff manning the borders would be increased from Wednesday to January 13, 2020. Close to 400 additional officials would be deployed at selected ports to assist with the delivery of immigration services and offer technical support at the borders, the minister said.
“Most of these officials will be posted at the Beitbridge port of entry with Zimbabwe, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge and the Ficksburg ports of entry with Lesotho,” Motsoaledi said.
He said the department would collaborate with border law enforcement agencies and the six countries sharing borders with SA to ensure ease of movement for travellers over the festive season.
“The ports of entry with traditionally high volumes of movement will have their operating hours increased by between one and seven hours. The Lebombo and Oshoek ports of entry will be open for 24 hours,” he said.
The SAPS also increased police officials with an additional 80 and the South African Revenue Service would deploy an extra 86 customs officials at selected ports.
Motsoaledi said: “We implore all travellers leaving and entering SA to ensure all their travel documents are in order to avoid unnecessary delays at ports.”
He reported that the department had started with the testing and piloting of the electronic visa application system, known as e-visa.
“The decision to introduce the e-visa was informed by observable benefits of this system. It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trading partners and Home Affairs officials,” he said. Visitors could apply online for visas once the system was rolled out. “It will lessen administrative burdens, including those involved in receiving applicants at visa offices, printing visa stickers and returning passports to applicants.”