Big illicit cigarette bust by gunners

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The wider commitment of the SA Army to executing its border protection tasking sees units and regiments from formations other than infantry deployed to prevent illegal immigrants and smugglers coming into South Africa.

One non-infantry unit currently doing Operation Corona duty is Potchefstroom-based 4 Artillery Regiment.

Working its area of responsibility in Limpopo on the South Africa/Zimbabwe border, four separate cigarette busts netted the gunners over R830 000 worth of illicit cigarettes. The busts were made in the vicinity of Boerdery Farm, between the Echo 6 and 9 observation points, at Poppalin Ranch and Vula-Vala Gate.

The gunners, temporarily “retreaded” as foot soldiers, also recovered a high-end Ford Ranger Thunder utility vehicle destined for Zimbabwe. It was, according to a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) report “recovered/confiscated right at the Limpopo River near Yellow Gate and Groenplaas”.

Elements of Mtubatuba-based 121 SA Infantry Battalion are regularly deployed on South Africa’s borders with Eswatini and Mozambique.

Last week soldiers linked with police in northern KwaZulu-Natal following a truck reported stolen in the Estcourt area of the province. The truck – A Mitsubishi Fuso – was found abandoned near Belgrade in the Mabonjana area. Closer inspection by police and soldiers revealed why the driver and his crew fled – 2 450 kg of dagga packed securely into 49 bags with a conservatively estimated street value of R7.3 million.

The entire shipment of dagga is now under lock and key at Pongola police station with the stolen vehicle due to join it shortly.