South African soldiers on Operation Corona border protection duty have recorded more successes, recovering several stolen vehicles, drugs and livestock. Unusually for Operation Corona patrols, the soldiers came under fire whilst retrieving the stolen vehicles.
In a LinkedIn post yesterday (30 June), the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said soldiers deployed in Maluti under Operation Corona were conducting foot patrols when they noticed men with a flock of 205 sheep. Once the men spotted the uniformed members, they fled, leaving the sheep behind. The Stock Theft Unit was called, and the sheep were handed over to officials so they could be returned to their rightful owner. The value of the abandoned sheep is R369 000.
In another incident at New Rest, the same soldiers found different narcotics to the value of R75 000 in a resident’s house and a suspect was handed over to the SA Police Service (SAPS) Maluti Station.
The SANDF also reported that its soldiers, during a standing patrol in Madimbo, spotted a Toyota Fortuner that was travelling at high speed towards an illegal crossing point along the South Africa/Zimbabwe border. Upon trying to intercept the vehicle, the occupants of the vehicle fired shots from what looked like pistols.
The soldiers returned fire and the suspects escaped towards the Zimbabwean side of the border. Whilst the soldiers were trying to retrieve the Fortuner, shots were fired from the side of the Zimbabwean border, allegedly by the suspects. Soldiers called for backup and eventually managed to retrieve the vehicle. The soldiers did mop-up operations around the area and discovered that there were two other vehicles hidden in the bushes. The values of the vehicles recovered are R400 000 (Toyota Hilux), R800 000 (Volvo XC60) and R430 000 (Toyota Fortuner). The vehicles were handed over to the SA Police Service.
Over the last month, SANDF soldiers on border protection duty have been very busy, recovering multiple stolen vehicles, millions of Rands worth of illicit cigarettes, and several illegal firearms. Illegal immigrants have also been apprehended. Amongst the more unusual seizures in June were two dead impalas and a brown hyena discovered in a vehicle. Earlier in the month, soldiers arrested a suspect trying to bribe them with R90 000 to facilitate future smuggling.
It has not all been good news, however, with a number of soldiers arrested for smuggling stolen vehicles and illegal cigarettes. Six soldiers were arrested by the Hawks on 22 June for “allegedly conniving with an international car smuggling syndicate to smuggle vehicles from South Africa to Zimbabwe during 2017 and 2019 when they were deployed around Beit Bridge border post outside Musina”.
The second “bad apple” incident saw two soldiers arrested for allegedly transporting illegal cigarettes in a military vehicle. They, along with an illegal immigrant, were arrested after police were tipped off about the illegal cigarette delivery.