Department of Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, says his Department is considering the reintroduction of transit visas. Motsoaledi says reviving these types of visas will help deal with foreign nationals entering South Africa illegally through O.R Tambo International Airport. The transit visas were discontinued in 2015.
Earlier this week, four Bangladeshi and four Pakistani nationals, were arrested after bypassing security measures at the airport to enter the country illegally.
The latest arrest is part of on-going efforts by Home Affairs authorities and police to punish syndicates working with foreign nationals intending to enter the country illegally. Recently, the kingpin of a syndicate, fraudulently issuing passports and other crucial documents to foreign nationals was arrested in a sting operation.
26 suspects arrested
Thirteen foreign nationals and 13 South Africans were among those nabbed. Motsoaledi and Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, addressed the media at O.R Tambo on improved measures to deal with security challenges at airports following reports of illegal immigration and corruption.
Motsoaledi says the Bangladeshis used the Eswatini and Mozambique routes to enter the country through O.R Tambo International.
Watch: Department of Home Affairs considers the reintroduction of transit visas
He elaborates “Now we have border management authorities manning our borders but with this as Home Affairs, we’ve decided that the transit visas will once be needed. The state security debriefed them for a couple hours and they had information about them. Though some of these things cannot be made publicly, I hope you saw on social media when they were pulling people.”
Attack on SA’s safety and security
Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, says the recent incident suggests a well-coordinated attack on the laws governing safety and security at the country’s airports. Mbalula commended law enforcement agencies for making the arrests.
“All of you are now aware that arrests were made of four Bangladeshi and four Pakistani nationals as they attempted to enter the country illegally. They arrived on Qatar air flight from Doha on the 15th June. This is clear indication of our efficacy at our security system that enabled to detect and arrest these illegal immigrants. We want to salute our officers on the grounds who have managed to arrest these illegal immigrants at this airport.”
Mbalula has emphasised the importance of airlines ensuring that passenger documentation is checked when departing or arriving in a country.
“South Africa holds a good record of compliance and recommended practices. This is a record we intend to guard and it is the reason we will not tolerate any acts of illegality within our aviation space.” he explains.
Both Ministers say authorities and law enforcement agencies will remain on high alert to ensure no corrupt or criminal activities take place at airports.