Sunday 10 August 2014

50 illegal crossing points from Zimbabwe to South Africa pose a major health, terrorism threat to the population.

50 illegal crossing points from Zimbabwe to South Africa pose a major health, terrorism threat to the population.

Immigrés clandestins fleeing their beloved homeland for South Africa, is not a top priority for the Zimbabwean police people who claim to lack adequate resources to close down 51 illegal border crossings which are operated under the auspices of business persons. 50 of those illegal entry points are into South Africa. The points allegedly are used by people smugglers, and cigarette smugglers. Zimbabwean authorities, are not perplexed.

About 10% of the South African population, are not South African whatsoever. A massive influx since the end of Apartheid has seen the nation upon the southern tip of the Dark Continent: become a vastly diverse melting pot of people and cultures. Recent controversial immigration laws have made one of the most liberal immigration systems in the world slightly more restrictive. As a previous article by our news service has demonstrated, the immigration restrictions likely are in response to sporadic South African incidence of deadly xenophobia.

Borders are a bit like tonsils in the most serious sense, they help to filter out undesirable pathogens such as terrorism, criminality, and disease, which could kill the body at which service they rest. In the case of South Africa, our border defences against diseases such as Ebola are rendered useless when masses of population do not go through border checkpoints. Granted, Ebola has an incubation period of some weeks and there is a massive chance that an Ebola sufferer will pass into South Africa prior developing symptoms. With a population density such as is found in Gauteng province, Ebola could spread much faster in South Africa than it has in West Africa. Just as massive fires often destroy dozens of homes in South Africa’s informal settlements and closely packed formal townships, the extensive population density is ripe for the spread of disease. Persons in South Africa illegally, are also likely to avoid treatment options such as hospitals. Xenophobia could also be worsened should the virus enter South Africa through an illegally present foreign individual.

Besides haemorrhagic fever, terrorism is a very real threat in South Africa. Independent research by journalists and church organisations, suggest that Al Qaeda affiliated terrorism group Al Shabaab, has been operating in South Africa for several years now. The group is thought responsible for many immigrant deaths, specifically targeting Christians fleeing Somalia. Illegal entry points into South Africa also make it ripe for human trafficking, an evil activity for which South Africa has become an international hub. Weapons trafficking is another very real concern. Zimbabwe is unstable to say the least, and our other neighbours are sometimes on the verge of civil war. Instability in South Africa’s neighbours is hardly good for South Africa’s economy and stability as a whole.

Whether South Africa’s laws on immigration are liberal or conservative, should have no impact upon whether or not we adequately secure our border against illegal immigration. The problem with illegal immigration is not immigration itself, so much as what gets in through the border by the weak spots created by the influx of population.

South African police just recently announced the arrest of several dozen foreign nationals with false documents or expired documents. Some experts have estimated that several million individuals in South Africa are in the country clandestinely. Such a scenario is neither ideal for bona fide clandestine immigrants who are often preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of their illegal status, nor is it preferential for the internal and external security needs of the nation.

South Africa’s rhino population would not be at risk of extinction were our border with Mozambique better patrolled. Al Shabaab would not be able to operate within our borders, committing atrocities, were our security systems at the border more efficient. The location of each of these 50 illegal border crossings needs to be ascertained strategically by the South African government, and combated with immediate effect. As for the other debate, as to whether or not South Africa should be liberal or conservative in its immigration policy, that debate should be fought where it is rightly fought: in Parliament. There is very little danger in immigration to South Africa, though this danger should not be under estimated in its very real impact upon the poor: there is however very much danger inherent with this weakness in our border through which undesirable figurative and literal pathogens can spread undeterred and damage the South African population whether in the interim or permanently. Ebola spread so easily through three countries, because the first case, of an infant boy: occurred very close to the border of the three main countries where it is ravaging. A strong border is a vital first defence against many an evil. The relatively strong protections at South African border posts mean little in protecting the population of the nation if vast numbers of people completely ignore all these points of intersection.

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