The Border Management Agency of South Africa Commissioner Mike Musiyapato said Zimbabweans who cross into South Africa without passports are not criminals, but citizens who cross to buy goods and commodities in Musina to sell back home.
Musiyapato’s comments have sparked debate on social media, with some questioning the legality of his remarks and others expressing concern over security issues.
Speaking on Newsroom Africa, Musiyapato said the BMA’s focus is on criminals who are engaging in illegal activities like smuggling and human trafficking, not ordinary Zimbabweans who are simply trying to buy goods in South Africa.
“If you were to look at the situation between us and Zimbabwe, it basically presents a number of groupings for different purposes.
“We have a lot of Zimbabweans who have documents, who come into South Africa in Musina town in particular to procure normal foodstuffs and things they need to go and sell back in Zimbabwean side, either because they are too expensive or they are unavailable. Those ones we facilitate on a daily basis.” Said Musiapato.
He also said the BMA has a mandate to protect both countries’ borders and to prevent the entry of illegal goods and people. It is working with law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border to address these issues.
“We have committed ourselves to start engaging along the separation of various groups of people that we are dealing with so that we can be able to isolate those individuals who are supposed to be a target of law enforcers, those who are supposed to be criminals.
“The reason why Zimbabweans come to South Africa without passports is the tough reality of getting a passport on the Zimbabwean side and they don’t have access to them, they are not necessarily criminals they just don’t have passports so they will then cross the border into South Africa and buy things.” Said Musiapato.
The BMA is an agency within the South African National Defense Force. It works with the police and other agencies to ensure border safety and security, including preventing illegal goods and people from entering the country.