The Joint Operations Division of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been allocated additional funding for border safeguarding initiatives, and this includes the acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and upgrading of borderline facilities.
This was made known by Rear Admiral Bubele Mhlana, Chief of Staff of Joint Operations, during a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on 24 November.
He told the committee that the Joint Operations Division was allocated R225 million to procure or acquire prime mission equipment for the borders for the three-year 2020/21 Medium Term Expenditure Framework. Of this, R65 million was allocated in 2020/21 and R75 million in 2021/22. R32 million was allocated for the procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Mhlana said JOps only became aware of the R225 million allocation in September this year and consequently did not spend the initial R65 million. Plans were subsequently put in place to spend R45 million. Half a million has been allocated to upgrading Operation Corona operational bases while R8 million has been allocated to the replacement of canvases, and R35 million allocated for Weatherhaven tented accommodation.
JOps is focussing on replacing tents and accommodation; maintaining and repairing office and accommodation buildings; storage facilities; improving ablutions; repairing and replacing kitchen equipment; boreholes for water; and providing operational bases with electricity.
For 2022/23, JOps plans to spend R85 million, with a focus on high and low technology. High technology equipment would include tactical radios and surveillance equipment for land and sea applications, and reliable communications systems.
Low technology applications include creating obstacles at identified areas to prevent the movement of vehicles on the borderline, such as the Jersey Barriers already deployed in KwaZulu-Natal, and trenches in Mpumalanga. Other technology includes observation towers and the possibility of deploying the Maritime Reaction Squadron with inflatable boats on the Limpopo River.
Mhlana said spending the R225 million ringfenced for border security in this way would add value to the operations being conducted along the borderline. He said the SANDF is responsible for border security and “we are taking that responsibility very seriously”.