More Mozambicans and Zimbabweans are intercepted by soldiers than citizens from any of the other four countries sharing South Africa’s 4 862 km long land border.
This is borne out by statistics collected by the SA Army provincial joint tactical headquarters in provinces where the national border protection tasking is operational.
In March, soldiers deployed on Operation Corona stopped 2 103 Mozambicans illegally in South Africa and handed them to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) immigration officers for processing and return to their home countries. Further north, along South Africa’s 225 km land border with Zimbabwe, 1 145 people were stopped and found to be illegal immigrants. They were also handed to police and immigration ahead of deportation.
Botswana has the longest land border of 1 840 km with any of the six countries bordering South Africa. Soldiers from Reserve Force unit Tshwane Regiment are exiting this border after a six-month posting and were commended at an end of deployment parade for 200 illegal immigrant arrests during their deployment.
Colonel M J Ramakatsa, Officer Commanding, Joint Tactical Headquarters North West, told the part-time infantrymen their apprehension rate was a record for the Botswana/South Africa border in a six month period.
In March, measured against the four figure numbers recorded on the Mozambique and Zimbabwe borders, soldiers on the Botswana border reported just 18 illegals apprehended.
A company from 121 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion will return to Mtubatuba after six months on the Eswatini border where, among others, a notable success was a haul of bags of dagga conservatively valued at R7.3 million.
Unit Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Malishwane Mokopotsi commended the northern KwaZulu-Natal men and women for a job well done. Reminding them of the value of “team”, she thanked support resources in the form of mobility, communication, rations and effective administration as part of the good results achieved.
Apart from slowing down the continuous stream of illegal immigrants, soldiers on border duty in March netted R2.6 million in narcotics, the majority of it dagga, and over R600 000 worth of contraband. On Eastern Cape’s border with Lesotho soldiers ensured stolen cattle worth R850 000 did not leave South Africa.