People seeking a better life than what is on offer in their own countries continue illegal pilgrimages to South Africa as evidenced by the May figure of 1 259 undocumented persons (government speak for illegal immigrants) being stopped by soldiers on the country’s land borders.
Operation Corona, the national border protection tasking handed to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) more than 10 years ago in terms of a Cabinet decision, has 15 mostly infantry companies deployed to protect and secure the country’s borders. In addition to preventing illegal migration, soldiers also observe and patrol for stolen vehicles and livestock exiting the country as well as smugglers bringing in illegal goods, with cigarettes a major commodity followed by various drugs and narcotics. Liquor, cosmetics and counterfeit clothing and footwear regularly feature in lists of goods confiscated by soldiers.
In May, soldiers posted on South Africa’s land borders with Lesotho, Limpopo and Mpumalanga prevented over 1 200 Basotho, Mozambicans and Zimbabweans from reaching destinations in South Afric, with the economic hub Gauteng top of the list. Those apprehended and handed to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) officials for further processing represent 10% of the number of illegal immigrants nabbed during Op Corona work in the first quarter of the year.
May was – in confiscation terms – a good month for Corona with narcotics, including dagga, conservatively valued at over R18 million, now awaiting destruction. Other notable hauls – in money terms – were contraband goods (R5.9 million), recovered vehicles (also R5.9 million) and recovery of stolen livestock (R759 000).