Most used illegal border crossings to SA are with three countries

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The “most popular” countries when it comes to illegal entry or smuggling contraband into South Africa are Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Residents from these countries regularly top the most apprehended list of soldiers deployed on the national border protection tasking Operation Corona.

Landlocked Lesotho is probably the single largest illegal importer of dagga into South Africa while residents of the mountain kingdom are also regularly apprehended and handed to police for livestock theft. Not reported on in the monthly updates defenceWeb requests from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) are incidents where Lesotho livestock owners drove cattle and sheep into South Africa in search of grazing.

Lesotho as an illegal point of entry for dagga is illustrated by confiscation of over R143 000 worth of narcotics with cannabis the largest contributor in one calendar month. The illegal substances were confiscated by soldiers patrolling both Lesotho’s borders with Free State and Eastern Cape.

Confiscation of illegal dagga imports from Mozambique also provides regular evidence of the regularity with which smugglers cross South African borders. Patrols on foot and in vehicles in one month saw soldiers on the Mpumalanga/Mozambique border take an estimated R1,7 million worth of dagga and other drugs from smugglers.

Contraband, mostly in the form of imitation branded footwear, such as Adidas and Nike, along with clothing and liquor are also regularly taken from smugglers attempting to evade excise duty and taxes in their efforts to reach what is seen as the “gold market” of Gauteng’s three metros.

In this regard it is again Basuto, Mozambicans and Zimbabweans who are soldiers’ most regular “customers” for the attention of police and SA Revenue Service officials.

A recent calendar month saw contraband worth R2,1 million taken from smugglers on the Free State/Lesotho border with soldiers netting R2.9 million worth of contraband on the Limpopo/Zimbabwe border and a further R1,2 million worth on the Mpumalanga/Mozambique border.

Stolen vehicles are coming more and more onto the Op Corona radar with soldiers on the KwaZulu-Natal/Mozambique border increasingly preventing high value vehicles leaving the country. Identified “high traffic” parts of this border are being strengthened by Jersey barriers, replacing unused boulders from local quarries which were the initial obstacles for vehicle thieves.

Another addition to the confiscation list is firearms with the most recent being  a pair of Winchester shotguns found by soldiers at Tshamutumbu village close to the Zimbabwe border.

There are currently 15 companies, mostly from infantry units (Regular and Reserve forces) with, among others 1 SA Tank Regiment and a Reserve Force anti-aircraft unit, also called up for border protection duties.

The operation’s rules of engagement (ROEs) include national border control, defending and protecting South Africa, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.

“The priority,” according to DCC “is to deter, prevent and stop cross border criminality on the borderline and apprehend anyone involved in any form or type of illegal or criminal activity”.