Illegal immigrants stopped, contraband seized on SA land borders in February

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The number of Zimbabweans illegally entering South Africa regularly tops the list of “undocumented persons” intercepted by soldiers with February no exception when the journeys of 1 067 people were nipped in the bud – 235 more than those attempting entry from Mozambique.

Zimbabweans seeking refuge or a better life in South Africa must cross anywhere along a 225 km land border while Mozambicans need to negotiate safe and unfettered crossing over 496 km. In both instances the topography is largely bush, varying from savannah to riverine and dense, including forest and dune forest borders.

The illegal export of stolen vehicles, mostly top of the range 4X4 SUVs and bakkies, is highest on the Mozambique/South Africa border, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal where 11 vehicles were prevented from being illegally taken over the border with one more stopped on the Mpumalanga/Mozambique border in February. All told soldiers, police and private vehicle tracking companies ensured 17 South African registered vehicles remained in the country in February, according to SANDF statistics.

Other notables registered by soldiers on the border protection tasking Operation Corona last month was confiscation of dagga and other drugs on or near South Africa’s borders with Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Total value is estimated at close to R400 000 with the largest contributor being Mozambique. Dagga worth over R66 0000 was taken from smugglers on Lesotho’s borders with Eastern Cape and Free State.

Unspecified contraband, mostly cigarettes, liquor, pharmaceuticals, clothing and footwear – generally counterfeit trainers – with an estimated street value in excess of R18.7 million – is now in police and SA Revenue Service (SARS) possession pending destruction. Contraband was taken from smugglers on all South Africa’s land borders with the exception of Botswana and Namibia, where 15 illegal immigrants were taken into custody.