Cape Town - SA's most popular ports of entry will be upping security and efficiency at its immigration desk to "ensure that with changes in Executive Authority, services to citizens, tourists and travellers are not interrupted" and a smooth Easter travel experience is facilitated for both international and local tourists.
SA's most popular ports of entry will extend their operating hours, while an additional 200 temporary staff will be deployed at various ports, including senior managers, to enhance service delivery.
The operational plans for the 2017 Easter holidays were announced by the new Minister of Home Affairs Hlengiwe Mkhize, addressing media at OR Tambo on Thursday, 6 April.
The DHA says they will be extending operating hours at selected ports between 11 to 19 April 2017, to ease movement for travellers in and out of South Africa over the Easter holidays. "These reinforcements," Mkhize says, "will apply to ten high volume ports of entry in anticipation of increased numbers of travellers."
The Top 10 ports by volume of arrivals and departures are, OR International Airport, Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Ficksburg, Oshoek, Cape Town International Airport, Kopfontein, Ramatlabama and Golela Port of Entry.
ALSO SEE: - SA Insider Guide: Easter school holidays events across SA
The updates schedule for the Easter period is as follows -
ALSO SEE: Easter Weekend: Kruger advises visitors of daily gate quotas, to pre-book online
"We trust that extending hours will go a long way in minimising burdensome queues, delays and inconveniences to travellers," Mkhize says.
With increasing traveller volumes over this period, the DHA says that "it is imperative that staff, as well as border ports, are well-prepared to facilitate traveller movement and to mitigate transgressions.
"Security dynamics and risks in peak periods include the spectre of undocumented travellers, fraudulent documents, illegal stamping of travel documents and dealing with challenges relating to personnel integrity."
Over the last four years, there has been a steady increase in traveller movement during Easter. "An analysis of all movement for March and April 2012-2016, shows an increase from around 5,7 million recorded movements of citizens and foreigners in 2012, to over 7 million in 2016," the DHA says.
Child trafficking alert
The DHA already upped security at OR Tambo after three children were intercepted by immigration officers at the airport on 29 March.
SA's Department of Home Affairs released a statement saying that a "male individual was prevented from departing the country with three children with fraudulently acquired travel documents".
The DHA warned of an increase in immigration security ahead of Easter, saying that a total of 15 cases of human trafficking have been reported this year alone, including the cases which occurred on 29 March.
According to the Home Affairs minister at the time, speaking at SA's largest airport hub OR Tambo International Airport, the DHA "will continue to weed out corrupt elements in our Department, in our Government and indeed, in our society precisely because we are of the firm belief that corruption and fraud have no place in our existence".
READ MORE HERE: Child trafficking: Home Affairs increases security ahead of Easter
Following recent incidents of theft and scamming at OR Tambo International Airport, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) advised passengers to report any concerns about safety to SA police at the airport.
ALSO SEE: OR Tambo heightens security as multi-million rand robbery details emerge
Travellers, as well as family and friends doing pick-ups at the airport, have also been warned to be alert and vigilant.
For the complete guide to Easter Holiday safety and alerts, check out: Easter safety: Scams, road safety and other travel alerts you need to know about
New biometric systems
Late last year OR Tambo International Airport also become the first African airport to implement the Smart Security checkpoint which has digitised the security check process, speeding up passenger progress through security.
According to Bongiwe Pityi, OR Tambo International Airport GM, the new Smart Security system complies with the highest global standards for airport security.
It will also mean a less invasive, but more secure scanning system.
“Passengers will find that with the new system there will almost be no need for physical pat-downs of passengers who set off security alarms because the scanning technology is much better at detecting objects that should not be carried on or around the person.”
SEE: Everything you need to know about the new Security System at OR Tambo
What to read next on Traveller24:
- Everything you need to know about the new Security System at OR Tambo
- Easter safety: Scams, road safety and other travel alerts you need to know about
- SA Insider Guide: Easter school holidays events across SA