Seizures of illegal cigarettes are fairly common for soldiers doing border protection and now police have added cigars to the mix of illegal tobacco products smuggled into South Africa.
The SA Police Service (SAPS) Twitter account has it that cigars valued at more than half a million Rand were intercepted at confiscated at a border post between Namibia and South Africa on New Year’s Eve.
The cigars, with an official police value of R647 000 were found in a bus during a routine search operation at the Vioolsdrif port of entry. The border post is between Namibia’s Noordoewer and the South African village Vioolsdrif.
Police, along with customs officials from SA Revenue Services, take responsibility for preventing illegal goods, including tobacco products, from entering South Africa at any of the country’s 57 recognised ports of entry.
The remaining more than five thousand kilometres of land borders is patrolled by 15 companies of mainly infantry soldiers from the full-time and Reserve forces. Their primary tasking is to ensure South Africans are safe and secure in terms of the national defence force’s constitutional mandate. This sees them apprehending illegal immigrants, officially termed “undocumented persons”, who are then handed to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for further processing.
Soldiers deployed on the Operation Corona tasking also confiscate contraband, ranging from cigarettes and cosmetics through to liquor, clothing and footwear.
By last August soldiers confiscated more than R27 million worth of contraband from smugglers since 2019 started. The majority of contraband seizures are on South Africa’s land borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The Operation Corona detachment providing border security on the South Africa/Namibia border is based at Louisvale outside Upington. Patrols are despatched from here to the thinly populated and arid border between South Africa and its western neighbour where a platoon base is the sole national defence force presence.