n Acta Criminologica : African Journal of Criminology & Victimology - Challenges in land border security and control experienced by the South African Police Service and other agencies

Special Edition 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


The national security and territorial integrity of a state, (country) especially in maintaining its sovereignty, is determined by the level of border security and control measures. It was against this backdrop that the objective of this study investigated the current multi-departmental policy approach adopted by South Africa on border security and control. The study was also interested on the effectiveness of the policy approach and challenges experienced by the South African Police Service and other agencies. Although the concepts border security and border control are at times used interchangeably, there are fundamental differences between the two concepts. Border security includes measures in safeguarding a state's land, air and water domains, detecting threats along these borders and securing all points of entry - locations such as border crossings, airports and seaports where officials are stationed to oversee the legal entry and exit of persons and goods (Nelson, , 2010: 2). Border security is proactive and protective in approach, in the sense that it attempts to prevent or detect threats before happening. Border security measures relate to those measures such as the ability of border agencies to prevent or detect border threats such as illegal smuggling of illicit drugs, trafficking in persons, terrorism, illegal smuggling of firearms or weapons. Border control on the other hand, refers to activities that are primarily concerned with those aspects that deal with the general application of legal and regulatory measures that apply to the control of the international movement of persons and goods (South African Police Service, 2007). Border control is more administrative, since it relates to ensuring compliance to legal and regulatory prescripts that regulate movement of persons and goods across borders. Such administrative measures relate to migration, import, export and environmental regulatory framework among others. The study focused on three dependent variables. Firstly, the border security approach that was captured by asking respondents to determine qualitatively and quantitatively the border security approach adopted by South Africa for border management. Secondly, the effectiveness of the border security approach measured by the perceived ability of South African Police Service and other border agencies in delivering their mandate. Thirdly, identifying the challenges to the effective implementation of the border security approach. This was based on four identified indicators around which research respondents were asked to respond. The indicators included the adequacy of institutional approach, co-ordination and co-operation, ability to identify various cross-border crimes and the challenges. The focal borders include the Ramatlabama, Ficksburg and Mananga border posts and their borderline areas. A mixed-methods approach in the form of a survey and interviews was used in answering the research questions raised by this study. This was used to solicit the views of border police officials and key informants on the current approach to border security and control, its effectiveness and the challenges facing the South African Police Service and other border security agencies. The key findings indicate that the current multi-departmental approach in its current form is not effective. It creates duplication, since co-ordination and co-operation among border stakeholders is voluntary and lacks a regulatory framework. Police officials at the three land borders revealed a great inability to identify various cross-border related crimes. Equipment and infrastructure, training and human capital are some of key administrative challenges at the three selected land borders. This study raised a number of issues that are of criminological, policing and security importance in South Africa. Based on the findings, this study recommends a comprehensive and viable border security management policy and practice informed by national security interest.

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