SOUTH Africa has banned the use of cellphones by travellers within immigration halls.
The ban, which came into effect last Wednesday, was communicated through notices which have since been pasted at all immigration service points at the Beitbridge border post.
Sources at the border said the ban was a reaction to the leaking of a video of a female immigration officer who was caught on camera on her smartphone instead of clearing travellers.
The officer along with three supervisors have since been suspended from work for dereliction of duty.
South Africa’s Home Affairs spokesperson Mr Mayihlome Tshwete confirmed the development yesterday.
“This is an existing policy which we had to reiterate following recent events. We advise travellers not to hesitate to bring their complaints to our attention as and when they arise. The case of the female immigration officer is being dealt with through an internal disciplinary hearing,” he said.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Mr Malusi Gigaba made a surprise visit to Beitbridge border post on Thursday last week after the video of the immigration officer went viral on social media networks.
It is reported that during the tour he discovered that several computers had been tampered with and no biometrics information of travellers was being captured.
According to sources at the port of entry, the Minister promised to set up a probe team to look into the status of the biometric system at Beitbridge.
Soon after touring the port of entry, Mr Gigaba told SABC that Beitbridge Border Post has been on the government watch list with many travellers raising the red flag over poor services by immigration officers.
“The Beitbridge border post has been in the spotlight because of long queues, corruption and inadequate staff and because of that picture that circulated of that lady who was on her phone while helping clients and therefore neglecting what she was supposed to do, that’s why we came here,” said Mr Gigaba.
He said tampering with the biometric system had put South Africa at high security risk.