‘Home af­fairs should man­age state se­cu­rity’

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE and SETUMO STONE news@city­press.co.za

The de­part­ment of home af­fairs is cur­rently “wrongly po­si­tioned” and should ide­ally be deal­ing with crit­i­cal mat­ters of state se­cu­rity, ac­cord­ing to an ANC dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment on peace and sta­bil­ity.

The doc­u­ment, which will form the ba­sis for talks at the party’s up­com­ing pol­icy con­fer­ence in June, ar­gues that the role of the de­part­ment is “widely mis­un­der­stood” to be that of an ad­min­is­tra­tive de­part­ment that de­liv­ers rou­tine ser­vices of low value. In­stead, it pro­poses that it be el­e­vated to a strate­gic and cru­cial na­tional se­cu­rity, ser­vice-de­liv­ery and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment unit.

It says that the de­part­ment has been se­verely un­der­funded over the past 23 years lead­ing to on­go­ing ten­sions be­tween lo­cals and foreign na­tion­als. The abuse of the asy­lum-seeker sys­tem by mi­grants with low skills lev­els, com­bined with the 2008 in­flux of Zim­bab­weans, led to a sys­tems break­down and so­cial un­rest.

South Africa saw vi­o­lent at­tacks on foreign na­tion­als in 2008, 2015 and again in re­cent weeks.

While the de­part­ment’s in­clu­sion in the jus­tice clus­ter in 2019 was a pos­i­tive step, the doc­u­ment says its pol­icy frame­work and se­cu­rity should be repo­si­tioned and its op­er­a­tional and or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­tures and fund­ing re­mod­elled.

The doc­u­ment ad­vo­cates the de­part­ment’s in­clu­sion in the se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture of the coun­try, pre­sent­ing Zam­bia’s home af­fairs sys­tem as a case study where the min­is­ter of home af­fairs is re­spon­si­ble for the po­lice ser­vice, pris­ons and im­mi­gra­tion.

The doc­u­ment also ques­tions the wis­dom of foot­ing the bill for the long im­pris­on­ment of foreign na­tion­als who com­mit se­ri­ous crimes such as mur­der and rob­bery, in­stead of send­ing these con­victs to their coun­tries of ori­gin to serve their sen­tences.

There are 6 440 sen­tenced foreign na­tion­als in South Africa’s 243 cor­rec­tional cen­tres who are serv­ing an av­er­age of 10.6 years for var­i­ous crimes com­mit­ted in South Africa, cost­ing tax­pay­ers up to R845 mil­lion a year and R8.96 bil­lion over their av­er­age 10-year sen­tence pe­riod.

The cost of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is also de­scribed as fruit­less, “given the fact that on com­ple­tion of the sen­tence, they get de­ported”.

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