Border scans a big worry

SECURITY authorities in Limpopo have not intensified cargo scanning at points of entry, making them vulnerable to the smuggling of drugs and other illegal items.

This emerged yesterday during a security cluster briefing in Polokwane, where chairperson of the justice cluster Dikeledi Magadzi, who is also MEC for safety and security, outlined the government's programme of action.

Law enforcement agencies at the Groblersbrug, that links South Africa and Botswana, and at the prime Beitbridge border post that links South Africa and Zimbabwe with many other African states, sometimes have to use their naked eyes to scan cargo that moves in and out of the country.

For more than two years, state security agencies were resorting to using their naked eyes to scan and authorise luggage.

Magadzi said only one scanner was being used at the Beitbridge border post but promised that the problem would be addressed as a "matter of urgency".

It is said that law enforcement agencies could often not detect unlawful products if they were brought into the country.

This suggested that the high number of counterfeit cigarettes that were smuggled in got through easily when officers were exhausted at the time of their crossing into the country.

The situation has also infuriated the officers at the border posts as their heads were on the block each time counterfeit goods crossed the borders undetected.

Magadzi promised that there would be scanners available before June for both the police and SA Revenue Service.

In a rare admission, the authorities seemed to be accepting a wake-up call that they did not appear to be ready to deal with problems that might arise when South Africa hosts the Soccer World Cup next month.

The cluster has also expressed concern over the alarming poaching of rare species but said it did not have the resources to deal with the situation.

Magadzi said an engagement had been undertaken with the justice department for harsh fines when dealing with poaching-related cases.

She said that fines imposed by the courts were just a slap on the writs as perpetrators were making millions of rands while getting petty fines.

Magadzi further assured communities that their safety would be in good hands during the Fifa World Cup.

She said soldiers deployed at the border posts would be able to deal with any situation that may arise.