Army/police co-operation for better border protection and cost saving


Both the national defence force and police service are integral components of the South African government’s security forces and often work in tandem at the behest of their respective political masters in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Not surprisingly, there is co-operation at the coalface level where unit and ground commanders often find themselves – and those they command – in situations eminently suited to collaboration.

One of these is border protection, handled solely by SA Army soldiers with minimal assistance from the SA Air Force (SAAF). SA Police Service (SAPS) officers at police stations in border areas as well as those posted at ports of entry are part of the national border protection effort, entrusted overall to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and presently executed by 15 companies under the Operation Corona standing order.

Establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA), currently an entity of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and scheduled to become autonomous within the next two years, will see a border guard become reality. There is, at present, no indication of where the first batch of 200 recruits will be utilised – at ports of entry or in physical border patrols such as those done by soldiers.

Looking to better border protection and maintenance of territorial integrity, senior SAPS officers in North West met with SA Army counterparts looking to improve border control in the province which has Botswana as an international neighbour.

Captain Z Nkabinde, Staff Officer 3, Operational Communication at North West joint tactical headquarters, writes the PROVJOINTS (Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure) meeting where a number of government departments were represented, was to “influence the outcome of all operations to achieve all outlined objectives”.

Those present heard a review of borderline successes over the past three Operation Corona deployments along with an intelligence briefing and strong points, weak points, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of areas of responsibility.

Nkabinde reports further for SANDF social media that only by working together as a security cluster can a high level of operational excellence be achieved.

Operational strategies were shared by all present, including the North West Parks Board and police specialist divisions such as the Hawks and Crime Intelligence with a view to combat all border related crimes.

Another area of operations under the microscope by senior SA Army officers and their SAPS colleagues is sharing resources, in this instance facilities.

The SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) is based in Potchefstroom, also home to a SAPS mounted capability and the army/police meeting “discussed the modalities of co-habitation on Welgegund farm [a SAPS equine facility],” writes Lieutenant Colonel Mandla Shongwe of the SA Army Support Formation for an SANDF social media account.

“The entities collaborated to share facilities to ensure the State, either through SAPS or the SA Army, is properly capacitated to deliver on its mandate.

“Co-utilisation of facilities at Welgegund farm by SAASIC and SAPS mounted capability will bring about an environment ensuring both are spared from the strains of constant budgetary constraints,” is Shongwe’s summary of the decision to share.