On the eve of the festive season, the Department of Home Affairs is gearing up for the influx and outflow of travellers, and deputy minister Fatima Chohan says the department is ready for the increased volumes.
“This increase in movement of people and goods across borders is due to the inflow and outflow of travellers of various categories – tourists, cross-border workers, business, academic and educational activities,” she said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“The movements we facilitate into and out of South Africa tend to peak during the festive season, school holidays and the Easter period.”
The team is also setting up overflow areas to process travellers in Maseru Bridge, Lebombo and Beitbridge to cater for the volumes expected.
A team of IT support staff is expected to remain at high-volume ports of entry from December 5 to January 9 to provide on-site support.
Operational hours are expected to be extended for busy ports of entry, covering pre-festive season movements, the festive season period and the reopening of schools.
The Department of Home Affairs is also expected to deploy 425 additional staff at the busiest ports.
“We implore all travellers leaving and entering South Africa to ensure that all their travel documents are in order to avoid unnecessary delays in ports. These include passports, visas, health certificates, permits for specified goods, plants and animals and vehicles insurance and bank authorised cross-border documents for vehicles.”
Chohan urged people to drive safely and wished everyone a safe and pleasant festive season.
During the previous festive season, 8 468 262 movements across SA’s borders were captured, comprising arrivals and departures of citizens and foreigners. Of these, 2 304 449 were South African citizens’ movements and 6 163 813 were foreigners’ movements.
The most arrivals from the SADC region were from Lesotho – precisely 758 519, followed by Zimbabwe’s 712 688, Mozambique’s 398 684, Swaziland’s 306 682 and Botswana’s 256 793.
In the same period, the top 10 ports for all movements were OR Tambo International Airport with 1 569 100 movements, Beit Bridge with 1 215 845, Lebombo with 936 415, Ficksburg with 701 588, Maseru Bridge with 699 186, Cape Town International Airport with 555 451, Oshoek with 384 076, Kopfontein with 236 561, Ramathlabama with 176 348, and Grobler’s Bridge with 165 903.