SA border officials arrested

SA border officials arrested

Leisa Leisanyane

MASERU – HOME Affairs spokesman Relebohile Moyeye says his boss Lekhetho Rakuoane will step up the fight against corruption at the border gates.

Moyeye said it has become apparent that the level of criminal activities at the border gates is appalling.

Moyeye said this barely a week after South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba led a sting operation at the Maseru Bridge border post last Thursday.

The operation called Bvisa Masina saw the Hawks, South Africa’s anti-corruption squadron, arresting 20 customs workers and six members of the public.

“It is alleged that the suspects would stamp Basotho’s passports who have overstayed their time in South Africa for a sum of M2 000 as bribery,” Moyeye said.

This is an operation that sought to combat fraudulent activities within home affairs workers at South African borders.

Gigaba described the Thursday arrests as the most successful because 26 people were nabbed in only one day.

He said prior to Thursday’s arrests, since the launch of Operation Bvisa Masina, 83 people have been arrested of which 42 were officials of the department while 41 were non-officials.

That means officials make up 51 percent of all arrests while non-officials make up the other 49 percent.

“Yet another breakthrough was made in our ‘all out’ fight against corruption and crime involving those who should be upholding the law,” Gigaba said.

“This was as a result of a carefully planned joint operation involving law enforcement agencies and the Home Affairs counter-corruption branch,” he said.

He however warned that “we still have people who are refusing to learn from mistakes of others until they themselves are caught”.

Gigaba said corruption has a detrimental effect on the government’s efforts to deliver effective services to the people.

He said Thursday’s arrests “demonstrate in concrete terms government’s zero-tolerance for crime as well as South Africa’s fight against corruption in both the private and public sector”.

“We are driven by a sharp resolve to combat criminality in all its manifestations,” he said.

Operation Bvisa Masina was launched in July to intensify the fight against fraud and corruption, a collaborative effort aimed at “clearing the rot from the organization, working in close collaboration with law enforcement agencies and government departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster”.

The arrests were for false documentation, bribery, aiding and abetting, impersonation, revenue theft and fraudulent violations relating to births, marriages and deaths.

The more prevalent was fake documentation, followed by aiding and abetting, with the least being revenue theft.

Last year, Gigaba dismissed 37 officials for fraud and corruption.

Gigaba said he was working on tightening immigration laws and their enforcement while phasing in new systems for managing the movement of people, services and goods.

“We expect public officials to lead the way in this regard. Corruption will not flourish if we all are to take personal responsibility for stopping it,” he said.

“Therefore we will spare no effort in pursuit of those in the system and in society who undermine the national drive towards service delivery improvement. There is no place in our department, or elsewhere in government, for corrupt officials bent on reversing the gains of democracy.”

South Africa and Lesotho agreed on a special programme that will support Lesotho nationals in South Africa to live and work officially without worrying about deportation.

Under this arrangement Lesotho citizens are now able to easily apply for the Department of Home Affairs Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) to make their residence in South Africa legal.

This development follows Gigaba’s announcement that an agreement had been reached between the two governments.

The aim of the LSP programme will ease penalties on Lesotho nationals who may have come under pressure to take up residence in South Africa, for a range of reasons, and applies to those who were already in the country before September 2015 when the agreement was reached.

Essentially it is a special dispensation for Lesotho nationals who are working, studying or running businesses in South Africa.

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