A surprise visit by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba at the Beitbridge border post at Musina in Limpopo has discovered that some staff members have tampered with biometric security equipment.

This means that immigrants can enter and exit the country without fingerprint identification or without their pictures being properly checked at the border.

The system not functioning makes it impossible for the officials to properly check fingerprints and pictures of travellers between the two countries. It was established to also help law enforcement agencies to detect wanted suspects whose fingerprints were recovered from crime scenes. This has not been happening at Beitbridge.

Gigaba says a full investigation will be conducted and officials who are found guilty will be dealt with. He says the current situation at the border poses a serious threat to state security.

“It is a security risk threat because when we introduced the security biometric system we wanted to ensure that we have full knowledge, not only of the names and passport numbers of people who are getting into a country but even their biometric details be checked, to verify if they were found at the scene of a crime. There is a security threat of the country so we are going to launch and investigation into the matter so action can be taken against those people involved.”

Travellers expressed concern over what they say is an unreasonable waiting period when seeking assistance at the Home Affairs office at the border. Some of those who are travelling to Zimbabwe say officials on the South African side need to improve the way they are rendering services.

Gigaba says his department is committed to improving service delivery at all its service points across the country. He says he went to Musina to also establish facts after seeing a video of an official who was on social media on her phone while assisting a client at the border.

“The Beitbridge has been under the spotlight because of long queues, corruption and inadequate staff and because of that picture that circulated on social media of the lady who was on social media while helping clients and therefore neglect what she was supposed to do that is why we came here to improve our front line services.”

Gigaba also says his department is ready to deal with an increased number of people who will be travelling to all ports of entry/exit over the coming Easter weekend.