Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele has paid a visit to Maseru Bridge in Lesotho.
It was the scene of violent protests which saw the border shut-down for several hours. The protest was sparked by the recent death of a Lesotho national, allegedly at the hands of the police.
Maseru Bridge is the second busiest port of entry into South Africa.
It’s Cwele’s first official visit.
The border congestion is still a challenge and is caused mainly by a slow network processing high volumes with biometric systems.
Cwele says:” It’s very important to reduce the number of fraudulent documents that have elements of criminal intent. That’s what is causing more queues.”
“I think you were all there when we were coming from the Lesotho side, the first computer was not working, and she had to reboot it. If you reboot it, the citizens don’t understand it, they think you are just playing with your computer.”
Lesotho’s four-year Special Permit ends soon and due to the geographical nature of the country, both sides agree that the existing short term agreement isn’t providing solutions.
Cwele says:”The renewals will have to be done , the question is whether the renewal will be for four years or ten years. I won’t know until we have concluded those discussions.”
Many Basotho remain aggrieved that the Special Permit was marred by challenges which led to many either abandoning or rejecting the process.
Minister Cwele says plans are afoot to develop the latest infrastructure.
One such pilot is being constructed at Lebombo border post.
This will ultimately be a model for other neighbouring countries dealing with high volumes of border traffic.