The South African Government can today announce important measures to prevent possible congestion at the country's busiest land border posts over the festive season period.
These steps will be implemented through inter-governmental co-operation between a number of National, Provincial and Local Government Departments and State Agencies in the various provinces. The operational functions of these institutions are being aligned and coordinated through the Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee (BCOCC).
The BCOCC is an affiliated structure of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster and was mandated in 2005 to strategically manage the South African border environment in a coordinated manner. The challenges relating to border control and security increase over the festive season due to higher volumes of cross border trade and the migration of large numbers of individuals both to and from neighbouring states.
The BCOCC has the mandate to ensure that the measures taken to address the challenges around border security and congestion also recognise and incorporate the strategic national objectives to facilitate legitimate trade, the promotion of tourism and the important contribution of these sectors to economic development in South Africa and in the SADC region.
The following Government Institutions are involved in the Border Control and Security Framework: the National Departments of Home Affairs, Intelligence, Transport, Public Works, Agriculture, Health and Defence, as well as the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS). As of today senior officials from these institutions will convene daily planning sessions at a national Joint Operations Centre to monitor the trends in the movement of goods and people and, if necessary, employ contingency plans at the busiest land border posts in the country.
Information services available to travelers and traders
A call centre has been established to provide a real time information service to travelers and traders. For accurate, timely information on border post operations:
Members of the public are also encouraged to access the following information to plan for transit across the South African borders on the website:
The webpage and information database will be updated regularly to ensure that the details provided to the public reflect the current operating scenario at the ports of entry accurately. The call centre will contact the major ports of entry at specified intervals in order to establish current queuing/waiting periods.
Extended hours of operation:
The busiest border posts will employ additional personnel and will have extended hours of operation. Information on hours of operation will be available on the website, the call centre and through the SMS service.
These steps are part of Government's public service delivery improvement programme and will be operational throughout the festive season period between 30 November 2006 and 31 January 2007.
Officials from the Department of Home Affairs and SARS will conduct their respective immigration and customs functions during these times. SAPS has already increased its force levels at the various border posts to ensure that orderly cross-border movement takes place. A policy of zero tolerance will be enforced by the SAPS and special focus will be given to organized crime, stolen vehicles, illegal firearms and drugs.
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE