Winter weather seemingly has no impact on illegal immigrants wanting access to South Africa with Batswanas and Namibians now also appearing on the list of those stopped by soldiers and handed to either police or immigration officers.
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) statistics for Operation Corona border protection activities for May, collated by the Joint Operations Division, show 102 people tried to enter South Africa from Botswana and Namibia. Measured against the 774 Zimbabweans and 580 Mozambicans apprehended, the numbers are minimal but nevertheless point to the value of having soldiers deployed along South Africa’s land borders with its south-western and western neighbours.
All told, in May soldiers, mostly from infantry units and regiments and boosted to 15 companies by Artillery Formation elements, were responsible for 1 541 illegal immigrants being handed to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) immigration officials.
June will, in all probability, show similar numbers with the month starting with the arrest of 158 apparently illegal immigrants attempting to enter South Africa from Lesotho.
Johannesburg daily The Citizen reports the illegals were in a 13 minibus taxi and three-vehicle convoy stopped by police and soldiers at a roadblock outside Wepener in Free State at the R702/R26 border crossing on Sunday.
“At about 00:45, a convoy of 13 Toyota Quantums, a grey Toyota Regius, red Volkswagen Golf and grey BMW 523i approached the roadblock and the first Toyota Quantum failed to stop, as indicated by an official at the roadblock.
“Shots were fired from the minibus and officials at the roadblock returned fire. One man was slightly injured in crossfire and rushed to hospital in Bloemfontein,” Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said in a statement.
The border between landlocked Lesotho and South Africa was again the prime location for livestock rustlers with soldiers preventing 195 cattle and 120 small stock, generally goats and sheep, leaving Free State farms. The livestock is – all found – valued at just under R1.3 million.
Border patrols, stop and search points and roadblocks netted soldiers dagga conservatively worth R3.1 million in May. Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were the major suppliers of the drug intercepted by soldiers.