Border patrol work pays off for Bambatha Rifles

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Another day, another bust could well be the thinking of part-time SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers currently on border protection duty with Bambatha Rifles notching up a R2 million plus success on the South Africa/Zimbabwe border in Limpopo Province.

Soldiers from the Johannesburg Reserve Force regiment picked up on a “suspicious looking Toyota Quantum” during a regular vehicle patrol in Musina, Joint Operations tactical headquarters Limpopo communication officer, Captain Moses Semono, reports.

The panel van-configured vehicle was stopped and searched, yielding a load-bed “fully packed with Remington cigarettes valued at R2 185 200”. The contraband and vehicle, with an estimated value of R240 000, were confiscated and handed to the relevant authorities.

Going west from the border town to Madimbo, another Bambatha Rifles patrol gave chase to a pair of “suspicious, unknown males”. A bag left behind in the escape proved the soldiers’ suspicions correct – it contained a pair of 9 mm Vektor pistols and 38 rounds of 9 mm ammunition. Semono’s report makes no mention of the men being apprehended, but does carry a job well done message.

That was from Lieutenant Colonel Frans Lechuti, Acting Officer Commanding, Limpopo joint tactical headquarters. He told Bambatha Rifles Officer Commanding, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Ramotsamai the men and women under his command did well and should be made aware of “the lives probably saved by confiscating the weapons and ammunition”.

Soldiers have been busy on Operation Corona border protection duty ahead of the festive season. Last month, SA Army regular and reserve soldiers netted 607 illegal immigrants along five South African land borders with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. They also confiscated contraband worth in excess of R4.7 million from smugglers. The contraband is normally cigarettes, liquor, counterfeit clothing and footwear as well as pharmaceuticals.

Over R2.4 million worth of drugs was taken from smugglers attempting illegal entry from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Stolen vehicles valued at over R2.5 million were prevented from leaving South Africa for either chop-shops or to fulfil “orders placed” in Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.