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SANDF receives first upgraded border safeguarding base

altThe South African National Defence Force (SANDF) today officially received the revamped and expanded Operational Base Madimbo after it was upgraded and expanded by defence and security company Saab Grintek.

The base near the Zimbabwe border to the east of Musina is the first of a number to be modernised and improved since the SANDF was again given responsibility for border security. The Madimbo base was today officially opened by Major General Barney Hlatshwayo, the Chief Director Ops Development in the office of the SANDF’s Chief of Joint Operations, Saab Grintek said.

Saab Grintek Defence was awarded a contract by the Department of Defence to upgrade the dilapidated Madimbo operational base, initially built in the 1970s. Modern accommodation is now provided with separate for male and female defence force members.

The base allows Joint Operations, which coordinates the SANDF’s border security efforts, to deploy soldiers very close to the border they must secure. Units from Madimbo will mount foot and motorised patrols from the base, checking fences, arresting smugglers, undocumented migrants, poachers, and others attempting to cross the border illegally or with criminal intent.

The revamped base includes a new Military Police facility, including a charge office, holding cells, and a secure store for confiscated contraband. A secure car park has been created to allow the SANDF to store stolen vehicles interdicted from crossing the border until they can be handed to police to be returned to their rightful owners.

“We are extremely pleased, as Saab South Africa, to be able to contribute our know-how and project management skills in assisting the SANDF to protect the integrity of our borders,” said Saab Grintek Defence CEO Magnus Lewis-Olsson. “This newly revamped base will play an important part in helping secure South Africa’s borders as a significant contribution to ensuring the ongoing safety and security of all of us who live here.”

Operational Base Madimbo includes an airstrip, a parade ground, water purification facilities, and new medical and two way radio battery charging facilities. Roads, the electrical supply, and sewerage systems, and a vehicle wash bay with oil and water separators were upgraded, while new messes with enlarged kitchen, laundry and recreation facilities were installed.

“Wherever possible, local contractors were used, helping create employment and economic benefit in Northern Limpopo province,” said Lewis-Olsson. “As Saab, we are particularly happy that we have been able to deliver this state of the art facility on time and on budget.

Saab Grintek Defence is currently engaged in upgrading further operational base facilities for the SANDF.

At present there are 11 SANDF sub-units deployed along South Africa’s borders, with a total of 1 800 soldiers. They are deployed along the borders with Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (there are no troops on the borders with Namibia and Botswana).

Border safeguarding is being rolled out under Operation Corona, with phase three currently underway. Phase one of the border safeguarding initiative witnessed deployments on the South Africa/Zimbabwe borderline.

Phase two saw the SANDF deploy on the Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho borders, with two sub-units to Limpopo (Pontdrift and Musina), two sub-units to Mpumalanga (Macadamia and Skukuza), two sub-units to Kwa-Zulu- Natal (Ndumo and Pongola) and one sub-unit to the Free State (Ladybrand). Phase three, which began on April 1, is also focusing on these borders. By 2013, the Lesotho/Free State border will be covered, to be followed by the Lesotho/KwaZulu-Natal border in 2014.

At present, Corona sub-units are deployed to Ladybrand, Fouriesburg, Maluti, Pongola, Ndumo, Zonstraal, Macadamia, Sandriver, Madimbo, Musina and Pontdrift.

In addition to soldiers, around 80 engineers are deployed to maintain the Nabob fences on the borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Four battalion headquarters (one in Musina, Sandriver, Ladybrand and Pongola) manage the Operation Corona border deployments.

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