Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has lauded whistleblowers for the role they are playing in the fight against corruption at the South African borders.
Motsoaledi was speaking at the Lebombo port of entry in Komatipoort at the border with Mozambique after two officials and a Mozambican hawker were arrested for corruption.
According to Motsoaledi, the arrest follows 18 months of investigation by the Hawks and Home Affairs counter-corruption unit.
Motsoaledi says the officials were processing passports of people without them being present in order to prolong their stay in the country.
“The scam consist of collecting passports of people whose stay in South Africa is coming to expire, take the passport to the Mozambican lady who has been arrested, who is the mastermind and the runner who has the network officials here at the border. She makes sure that passport gets stamped. The owner of that passport might be in Joburg, Pretoria, Cape town, Gqeberha anywhere in SA, but their passport says they have crossed the border to Mozambique”
Motsoaledi comes under fire over ‘chaotic state’ of Home Affairs
In May, Motsoaledi came under fire from some opposition parties in the National Assembly for what they say is the chaotic state of the Home Affairs department. Political parties raised concern about the problem of long queues where often people are turned away because the system is offline.
During the department’s budget vote debate, parties also questioned why the department has still not introduced an online appointment system.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Liezl van der Merwe says, “Imagine waking up at 4 am using your last bit of money on transport to go to your local Home Affairs office hoping that today you’ll be able to get an identity document (ID) because that’s what stands between you and a job. It is what stands between you and providing for your family. What stands between you and a brighter future. Then consider the mother who travels to a Home Affairs office in search of a birth certificate that document stands between her and a Sassa grant without which she cannot feed her newborn baby but for many visiting a Home Affairs office in taking a day off work to queue for hours on End only to be told to come back tomorrow because the systems are offline again systems that are perpetually offline have become synonymous with this department.”
Democratic Alliance (DA) Angel Khanyile says, “The issue of long queue in different parts of the country and by various members of the portfolio committee had been raised on numerous occasions yet the situation remains the same of this country spent days and weeks without being attended to Andrews days off work because the department has not introduced the appointment system.”
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Mgcini Tshwaku illustrates this point by quoting KwaZulu Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala following a recent visit to a Home Affairs Office.
Zikalala said, “There are people who are arriving at Home Affairs at 4:00 in the morning and the home Affairs open at 10:00 where it opens at 8:00 and then people start working at 10:00 and up until 12 and then after that, you find that they’ll system are offline they’ll go to lunch and you will not know what is actually happening. What is happening right now is a crisis everywhere…”
“People are crying about the system being online not being helped up on time by the Home Affairs. So in that budget, we did not see a plan or money allocated to saying that is what we’re going to make sure that none of which I need the money so that you are ensuring that these queues and also the systems which are offline at the Home Affairs are going to be eradicated,” Tshwaku explains.
Motsoaledi acknowledged the problem and assured members that they are tackling it.
“When you listen to members of the opposition parties talking about the documentation you’d think everything in Home Affairs has. I mean all the offices are closed and there’s no work. The challenge about downtime which we experience from SITA. We have mentioned it in the portfolio committee. We have got a plan and a program to deal with that. It also disappoints us I must say and I’m not going to hide it,” Motsoaledi says.