Tampered biometric system at immigration border poses high security risk for South Africa

South Africa faces a high level of security risk following the tampering of various biometric systems at the Beitbridge Border Post between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

BeitBridge Border Post handles a huge volume of southbound traffic and an increase in the number of travelers entering South Africa from Zimbabwe. However, following a viral video of a female immigration officer ignoring travelers and fiddling with her phone, it was discovered that several computers at the border had been tampered with and biometric information of travelers were not captured.

According to South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, “it is a security risk because when we introduced the security biometric system, we wanted to ensure that we have full knowledge, not only of names and passport numbers of people getting into the country, but even their biometric details be checked to verify if they were ever found at a crime scene”.

Stating that Beitbridge Border Post has been on the government watch list, as many travelers have raised red flags over poor services by its immigration officers, Gigaba added that tampering with biometric system puts South Africa at a high-security risk. “There is a security threat to the country, so we are going to launch an investigation into the matter so that action can be taken against those people involved.”

However, South Africa has with effect from Wednesday, banned the use of cellphones by travellers within the immigration halls. “This is an existing policy which we had to reiterate following recent events” noted the Home Affairs spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete.

Displeased Beitbridge commuters while expressing their frustrations noted that the ban on cellphone use was meant to stop disgruntled travellers from collecting evidence against incompetent officials.

Meanwhile, an Officer Commanding Beitbridge District, Francis Phiri, noted that  “we have arrested a total of 4 502 people for violating immigration laws and another 254 for contravening sections of the Protected Places and Areas Act. Those arrested for entry and exit by evasion under the Immigration Act (border jumpers) were fined, while a further 238 suspects sent to court for prosecution (under the Protected Place and Areas Act). They were handed varying sentences depending with individual cases”.