Border Security: KZN stuck in the concrete era as hundreds of vehicles disappear into Mozambique

Issued by Sharon Hoosen MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Transport
10 Oct 2019 in Press Statements

Please find attached a soundbite by Sharon Hoosen MPL,DA KZN Spokesperson on Transport.

A SAPS report handed over to Members of the KZN Legislature’s Transport Portfolio Committee has revealed that between April and September this year a staggering 104 stolen vehicles were taken across the Mozambique border, from Umkhanyakude in the north of the province, in order to be sold off.

According to the report, an average of 20 stolen vehicles are being moved across the Mozambique border each month with the Toyota Hilux being the most popular vehicle stolen, followed by the Ford Ranger.

The findings comes after the portfolio committee visited the area earlier this week as part of an oversight inspection to assess border security.

It is due to this illegal movement of vehicles across the national border that former KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu tasked the DoT with investigating solutions for investigating this criminal activity.

The investigation outcomes of cross border controls were to provide effective solutions to cover the 25km length of the border fence, where the alleged ‘hotspots’ were recorded.

While the DA respects the attempts made by the Department to address the problems we are concerned by the lack of proper investigations into alternatives which should have been considered before finalizing an exorbitant tender to erect concrete ‘jersey’ barriers along this stretch of the border.

Other concerns include:

  • The lack of investigations into various routes used by criminals to access the border which has left them to enjoy free reign and to travel undetected;
  • Lack of police enforcement which has resulted in a lower arrest rate of criminals involved in carjackings;
  • The fact that the protection of KZN’s borders in not the mandate of the KZN Transport Department, but rather that of the SANDF;
  • That R85 million has been awarded to manufacture and install ‘jersey’ barriers for Phase One, a length of 8km of the border. With this in mind the total cost to cover 25km will require additional funding of R255 million and;
  • That the contract for Phase One has been awarded to a single contractor, with the inspection also revealing that six months into the 12 month contract, only 12% of the project is complete.

It also appears from the oversight that government is operating in a silo, without giving due consideration to all stakeholders, effectively leaving the DoT with no alternative option but to continue with the Jersey Barrier Project.

If the Department of Transport was really interested on doing proper research on best practices, then new modern and cost effective solutions should have been provided. Nor was there any proper and detailed feasibility study on the best alternative possible between the railway sleepers, reinforced concrete wall with Soil Nails, Twisted barrier and a natural rock barrier.

The DA believes that the decision to finalize and to award a tender on the ‘jersey’ barriers was rushed and poorly planned and that it is possible that cheaper alternatives could have been found. These include;

  • Drone technology and or
  • Advanced technology alternatives
  • Additional security guards stationed at hotspots
  • Digging of trenches
  • Boulders placed at hotspots and;
  • Increased police visibility on the key access roads leading to the border.

While other countries are investing in more advanced border protection technologies, KZN is still stuck in the concrete era with its ‘jersey’ barriers.

The DA remains committed to monitoring the progress of this project and to getting answers to the queries we have raised via official parliamentary channels.