The Excelsior News had a telephonic interview with Ms Dianne Kohler Barnard, a member of parliament for the DA (Democratic Alliance), on Monday, 16 July, after she investigated incidents of eSwatini citizens that are crossing the South Africa Border on a daily basis.
Dianne stated that she visited the Golela Border Post to South Africa during last week and was astonished with the dire state of the border post. Personnel are understaffed and do not possess the required scanner machines to scan trucks and other vehicles crossing the border.
She also visited a rural area, about 35 kilometres from Pongola, near the Itshelejuba Hospital where it was evident that eSwatini citizens are crossing the border by simply climbing underneath or through the broken fence.
These individualso do not come to South Africa legally, but enter RSA illegally. All this, while officials from the SANDF (South African National Defense Force) allegedly stand guard and watch as they enter the country. She spoke to some of the officials on duty and she was abruptly informed that they were given the order to not arrest the people but rather leave them to come and go as they wish.
The officials did not want to say who instructed them to do so, but as Dianne stated, it was presumable someone “higher up”. As the visit to the border progressed, she was informed that heavily pregnant women cross the South African Border to deliver their babies in South Africa.
The children are then South African citizens, which means the mother is eligible for a child support grant. An estimated 500 – 600 people cross the border in this manner on a daily basis. It was also said that these figures can sometimes double when grants are being paid out.
The Excelsior News asked Dianne why these people would prefer to come to South Africa this way and she answered by saying that she believes it is because South Africa offers better services and they are able to find better work opportunities here.
Not only is this a huge crisis that needs urgent attention but the fact that anyone carrying illegal items such as drugs, weapons and even those trading with rhino horns, can cross the border in this manner without being apprehended. The people that climb through these fences are not being searched by officials and this means that they are able to bring anything into South Africa.
Dianne added that due to the fact that the border post does not have the relevant scanners to check the vehicles entering the country, the vehicles and trucks are not properly searched. Criminals have carte blanche when they are transporting drugs, illegal weapons and even children for the sole purpose of human trafficking.
This is completely unacceptable and raises a major concern. The matter has been reported to the Shadow Minister of Defense and they will have to answer in Parliament. Ever wondered why people often wait for hours and hours in long queues at clinics or other state departments?
Maybe it is because a lot of those people are not South African citizens, but rather those crossing our borders illegally to receive the same benefits that we as South Africans are entitled to.
Hardworking South African citizens often get outraged about other countries’ citizens that come to our country and receive employment and benefits here. They feel that these individuals are receiving everything that is actually due to locals and this can easily result in xenophobic attacks.