Easter travel numbers shoot up at SA’s ports of entry

The Border Management Authority (BMA) facilitated about 1 136 250 travellers across the country’s 71 ports of entry over the Easter period.

This represents a 24% increase, or 222 391 more travellers than in 2023.

Dr Mike Masiapato, the BMA’s commissioner, announced the results of the 10-day Easter plan implementation that ran from March 26 to April 4.

He identified the OR Tambo International Airport, the Lebombo port of entry to Mozambique, and the Beitbridge port of entry to Zimbabwe as the top three ports that processed the majority of travellers, with a total of 528 042 individuals.

OR Tambo Airport the busiest

“In fact, OR Tambo facilitated the most travellers at 217 855, followed by Lebombo at 157 069 and Beitbridge at 153 118 travellers,” Masiapato said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday. 

He said the Cape Town harbour recorded a rise in the number of holidaymakers boarding cruise ships to various destinations.

The BMA also processed about 36 675 private vehicles, 1 893 minibus taxis, 1 309 buses, and more than 2 621 aircraft at various international airports. 

It also handled 252 vessels across seaports, of which 119 were for crew changes through the off-port limit mechanism. 

“This has to do with the facilitation of crew changes for vessels that have not docked at the port,” he said.

“During the implementation of this plan on people movement, we deployed proactive preventative measures for the speedy detection of non-compliances on the set port protocols.”

The commissioner also revealed that 3 841 people were intercepted for attempting to gain entry into the country illegally.

Implementation of proactive measures

Of the 3 841, about 2 403 did not have any documents; 1 019 were refused entry for being “undesirable”, while about 419 were found to be “inadmissible” to enter the country due to various reasons.

“The majority of those arrested without documents were intercepted at the vulnerable segments of the borderline. They were processed, declared undesirable for five years, and deported.”

According to Masiapato, most of the “inadmissible” individuals had invalid passports, fraudulent visas or simply failed to produce relevant documents such as valid yellow-fever certificates. 

He explained: “We would like to indicate that the success of these Easter operations can be attributed to the consistent implementation of all proactive measures, including effective corridor management, which was done in full collaboration with the respective local traffic authorities.

“As such, none of our key arteries leading to any of the land ports of entry experienced any kind of congestion.” 

He also expressed his gratitude to all motorists for observing traffic laws and adhering to the instructions of traffic authorities.

Limpopo bus crash

Masiapato further applauded the Stockpoort port of entry for processing and recording the data of all passengers who were on the bus from Botswana to Moria in Limpopo for the Easter pilgrimage. 

“Despite our limited resources, our officers continue to work tirelessly to ensure the smooth flow of legitimate travellers while upholding the highest security standards.

“We are extremely proud and appreciative of the resilience of our border officials in rendering stable service in very difficult conditions.”

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Botswana counterpart, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, visited the site of the bus crash that claimed the lives of 45 people.

The only survivor of the crash was an eight-year-old girl. – SAnews.gov.za

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