Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, we are grateful for your participation in this briefing on the department's interventions here at OR Tambo International Airport, and plans for other ports of entry for the 2016 festive period.
For this briefing, we chose OR Tambo International Airport seeing that it is one of South Africa's principal ports of entry, and had recently experienced challenges regarding smooth facilitation of movement of persons. This has afforded us a chance further to inspect, on-site, what has been done to improve service for travellers in and out of the Republic of South Africa.
It is fitting at this time also to articulate operational and contingency plans we have in place for smooth facilitation, in collaboration and joint execution with other departments and agencies.
We anticipate, in this busy period, an upsurge in traveller movements, in and out of the country, necessarily placing additional strain on limited resources, especially at primary ports of entry.
It is the mandate of our department to ensure effective and secure management of immigration and to facilitate movement of persons through OR Tambo as one of SA's priority ports of entry.
OR Tambo International Airport
OR Tambo is the busiest airport on the African continent. It serves as the primary hub for domestic and international travel to and from South Africa (SA).
For OR Tambo International airport, the department has completed a specific operating model for festive period operations, understanding that implementation of a sound and responsive operating model to manage ports of entry operations is a critical requirement for service delivery at port level.
Accordingly, additional resources for the 2016/2017 festive season were provided, in spite of current financial constraints. A total of 92 additional staff members will be deployed at this airport from 9 December 2016 to 14 January 2017.
A structured shift arrangement was developed for the period of deployment, for effective and efficient utilisation of such additional resources.
The additional staff of 92 will do two shifts a day, to cover also for the overlap between normal shifts, which may be disruptive if not properly managed.
The first 5-hour shift of additional staff will start at 06h00 in the morning, and end at 11h00.
This shift will return for the second 4-hour shift at 16h00, and work until 20h00.
The current staff at OR Tambo will continue with their normal 12-hour shift, from 07h00 to 19h00.
In setting up the two shifts, of additional staff, the department took into account the busiest periods of the day, where more personnel is required, for full capacity, and maximised impact.
Importantly, the two shifts of additional staff will allow for 100% capacity at the workstations, with all cubicles utilised for traveller processing during the specified peak hours. I must emphasise that this is a temporary intervention; we will still require a sustainable solution that appreciates that efficiency, through optimal staff capacity, needs to extend beyond the festive season.
Further to tackle delays, we are in discussions with ACSA on how best to rearrange counters. This is to separate South Africans, who do not need to take fingerprints, from foreign nationals, especially those who are providing for the first time their full set of fingerprints � for all ten fingers.
Our Director General met with stakeholders, compromising of airline associations and key tourism players. In this meeting, the DG updated our stakeholders on the implementation of IMC recommendations and also briefed them on our plans to deploy additional officials to key ports of entry.
Festive season plans for other ports
Regarding festive season plans for other ports of entry, a brief background should assist.
On 4 December 2014, the SA Cabinet resolved that the Department of Home Affairs should be responsible for the coordination of border management mandates and activities within government in the period leading up to the establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA).
Through the BMA Project Office, the department effectively coordinated the 2016 Easter festive border coordination plans between various organs of state.
Similar plans have been put in place for the upcoming 2016/2017 festive period. The 2016/17 festive operational plan will ensure optimal coordination between government stakeholders in the border environment. The plan will come into operation from 08 December 2016 to 14 January 2017.
This plan outlines accountability and reporting requirements of different departments at ports of entry to the National Border Management Coordination Committee (NBMCC) and the BMA Project Office. The NBMCC will meet daily to assess border control processes at all ports of entry over this period.
The plan further addresses a number of key areas, such as:
Key border related risks and threats and proposed mitigation measures,
A travel advisory for the 2016/2017 festive period,
The extension of operational hours at targeted ports of entry,
The identification and responsibilities of port of entry managers,
The deployment of additional human resources and assets in the border environment,
The provision of additional infrastructure and specific improvements to ports of entry,
An escalation protocol to address problems, and
Departmental contact information.
The extension of hours will cover pre-festive season movement, the post-festive season period and the re-opening of schools for the 2017 academic year. Again people are encouraged to travel gradually in this period, rather than on a single day. Safety on the roads is paramount!
Birth Certificate requirement
Our officials have been inundated with enquiries from those travelling with children, regarding the requirement for birth certificates. The birth certificate, or unabridged birth certificate, is required for all children, below 18, travelling in or out of South Africa, except where a visa had been issued to a minor, as this would have been provided for as part of the visa application process.
Where a birth certificate has been applied for and cannot be produced or be obtained at the time of travel, an official letter stating this fact can be obtained from the nearest Home Affairs office before travelling through a port of entry.
From 1 November 2016, we now refer to this document as a birth certificate, as there is no longer need to distinguish between the old abridged and new unabridged birth certificate issued from 2013.
This is in addition to the requirement for valid passports, and visas where applicable, as well as affidavits confirming parental consent to such travel in the event that one parent is not travelling.
We encourage citizens to apply for birth certificates when they apply for child passports. Going-forward, details of parents will be printed in the passports, so that parents whose particulars are printed would not be required to take along birth certificates when travelling with their children.
These plans are rolled-out to ensure quick processing of people and goods at South African ports of entry and to alleviate problems recently experienced at OR Tambo International Airport.
We thank all officials for their dedication to the success of this project.
[A Table outlining the extended hours for the festive period is provided below]
Those taking a break, have a joyful rest, and a most fulfilling new year for all!
I thank you.
Source: Department of Home Affairs