Today, it’s a pleasure to witness the pass-out parade of the first crop of Inspectorate Law Enforcement Officer trained on a law enforcement skills programme specifically tailor-made for the Department of Home Affairs.

Congratulations on your success.

The current 640-strong Inspectorate enforces the immigration law and plays a critical role in ensuring national security.

However, over the years the training of Inspectorate officers has not been seen as a departmental priority.

This has changed.

In 2011, the Department’s Learning Academy was given the task of training for the Inspectorate.

The Learning Academy embarked on a rigorous consultative process that saw the Academy partnering with other departments within the security cluster as well as in the Justice Cluster, such as the South African Policy Services, Department of Defence, State Security and the Department of Justice.

The culmination of that long consultative process was a framework for the design of an NQF level 5, DHA specific law enforcement qualification, the National Certificate: Immigration Law Enforcement.

In addition to professionalizing law enforcement within DHA and in the country, through the Inspectorate Chief Directorate, the aim of this qualification, is to redress some of the enduring legacies of the neglect of this important aspect of the work that Home Affairs carries out.

South Africa is at risk in a number of ways.

First of all, illegal or undocumented migrants pose a risk to the security of the country.

Globalization has exposed South Africa to the threat of terrorism and the harsh reality of human trafficking.

In 2013, following the Westgate attack in Kenya, we found ourselves embroiled in the fall out over the identity and whereabouts of a suspect, Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed by the media, “White Widow”.

Second, the reputation of the Department has suffered from the unlawful arrest or detention of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The lack of training, translated in officers’ inability to write section 212 statements or simply present evidence in court.

Over the years, Inspectorate Officers were ridiculed and branded as incompetent by courts as well as by different attorneys representing people whose rights Inspectorate Officers were said to have violated. 

It was for the same reason that the training that the new Inspectorate Officers was divided into two phases, with the first phase focusing on the academic or theoretical knowledge of immigration law and the second on self defence and combat.

We are living in a world where migration has become a global reality.

In 2012, South Africa recorded 13 million international arrivals, of whom  9.2 million were tourists.

That is a massive increase on the 3.4 million international arrivals recorded in 1993.

Most of the 2012 tourists come from the United Kingdom, followed by the United States. But China, Brazil and India are not far behind. And this tourist market is contributing billions of rand to our GDP.

We must also not underestimate the dangers posed by transnational crime syndicates.

They are very sophisticated and have the intelligence, connections and money to buy their way to any identified destination.

We are currently seen as a route for child trafficking to European countries.

And we still have a long way to go to prevent drug traffickers from using South Africa as a market.

The world looks into us through the eyes of Madiba. Through his seminal leadership after 1994, South Africa now has a unique moral standing in the world. It’s a standing that you must do your best to uphold. You can live and work with your head held high.

Go out there and serve South Africa with dignity and honour.  End

Issued by Department of Home Affairs

14 March 2014