Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has issued written responses to a set of Parliamentary questions this week, and he’s been forced to tackle the thorny issue of illegal immigrants within SA’s penal system.

How many illegal immigrants have been jailed in South Africa, over the last five years?

DA MP Desiree van der Waalt compelled Lamola to provide data on how many foreigners, who’ve entered and stayed in South Africa illegally since 2017, had been incarcerated in South African jails since 2017.

When the minister came back with the numbers, it made for a particularly tough read: A total of 17 994 illegal immigrants have been put behind bars during that time in South Africa.

In 2019, 4 473 undocumented foreigners were locked up – the highest year of all five assessed. In 2021, over 3 500 illegals were sent to the slammer, which marks a small rise from figures recorded in 2020.

A total of 6 741 non-SA citizens were incarcerated in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Once these sentences have been served, the onus then falls on Home Affairs to determine if these jailbirds must be deported or not.

Border control under spotlight after ‘explosives’ discovery

Earlier in January, Border Control Management in Mpumalanga reportedly said it had intercepted 7 000 illegal immigrants trying to cross into South Africa from Mozambique during the festive season.

These figures were released on the same day three men were detained at the Beitbridge Border Post, for allegedly smuggling explosives into South Africa. The group was apprehended in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Members of the Musina Explosives Unit were summoned and subsequently identified the explosives as follows:

  • Six (6) x Reels of detonating cord, orange in colour without any branding.
  • Fifty (50) x Units of connector capped fuses, green in colour branded Famesa Carmex.
  • Sixty five (65) x Units of Blasting Cartridges branded Superpower 90 emulsion explosives.

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