South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) deported over 27 000 people over the festive season who tried to enter the country illegally.
Commissioner Mike Masiapato held a media briefing on Sunday to provide a report back on border operations over this period.
Masiapato says more than 15 000 people attempted to cross the border without any documentation whatsoever.
“In this instance, after intercepting them, we took their fingerprints, declared them undesirable and banned them from re-entering South Africa for five years and kept the record in the Biometric Movement Control System and got them deported.”
The majority of interceptions occurred at the Lebombo land port of entry with 6 808, followed by 1 891 at the Beitbridge land port of entry.
Meanwhile, 6,455 travellers were denied entry into South Africa for being undesirable, including those who committed crimes in other countries and appeared on the Interpol red list.
In addition, about 4 626 travellers were refused entry for being for having invalid passports, fraudulent visas or failing to produce valid yellow fever certificates.
This means 27 005 people were deported while attempting to enter South Africa illegally.
The Commissioner raised his concern at public transporting companies that continue to transport illegal migrants.
During this period, the BMA imposed about 98 administrative fines to various conveyancers especially bus companies to the value of R3 540 000 for transporting illegal migrants at the cost of R15 000 per person.
Meanwhile, the BMA processed over five million legal travellers through South African borders over the festive period.
“The 2023/2024 festive season was a remarkable time where a noticeable increase in the movement of persons and goods entering and exiting the Republic of South Africa was experienced.”
The latest data shows a one million increase in travellers compared to 2022/2023.
This number of travellers is still one million less than the pre-COVID-19 average numbers of about six million travellers.
Of the 5 096 288 travellers, 216 594 used private vehicles, 21 502 mini-bus taxis, 6 443 buses and 55 765 trucks through the movement control system.
In total, more than 13 050 aircraft were processed at international airports and approximately 709 vessels at seaports.
About 407 vessels underwent crew changes using the off-port limit mechanism in the maritime environment.
According to the data, OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) served the largest number of travellers, which was around 993 759.
The Lebombo land port of entry to Mozambique came second with 755 066 visitors, followed by the Beitbridge land port of entry to Zimbabwe with 745 563 travellers.
Compared to the 2022/2023 festive period, ORTIA, Lebombo, and Beitbridge recorded an increase in traveller volume of 22%, 24%, and 25%, respectively.
The BMA mandate is to facilitate and manage the legitimate movement of people and goods across 71 ports of entry of which 52 are land, 10 are international airports and nine are seaports.