Op Corona border patrols net contraband worth R13 million


Further proof of the porosity of South Africa’s borders, particularly those on land, comes from the Joint Operations Division of the national defence force in its May statistics for the border protection tasking, Operation Corona.

The value of contraband soldiers took from smugglers while patrolling a 10 km wide strip along the over 4 800 km of land border in May was R13 million.

A change in communications personnel at Joint Operations means defenceWeb is no longer provided with product specific information on confiscated goods but cigarettes and alcohol have consistently been in the top two. As an example, in April the value of cigarettes soldiers took from smugglers was conservatively estimated at R1.6 million, just on half a million Rand more than in March.

In a presentation prepared for Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD), Joint Ops Chief Lieutenant General Rudzani Maphwanya gave the value of contraband goods seized in the first four months of the year as R4.7 million. He did not give a breakdown of, for example, cigarettes, liquor, cosmetics or counterfeit clothing and footwear.

There are currently 15 companies from mostly infantry units (both regular and Reserve Force) deployed on a rotational basis along land borders with Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The value of narcotics confiscated in May is estimated at R4.1 million. This is an overall value including dagga and heroin. In April the value figures for these two narcotics alone was given as R2 million (dagga) and R600 000 (heroin).

May also saw soldiers recover livestock worth R364 555 from rustlers and an unspecified number of stolen vehicles, valued at R6.8 million, were seized before they could be smuggled out of the country.

Confiscations continue in June, with successes recorded. During a mid-month operation, 46 boxes of contraband cigarettes, with an estimated value of R1.3 million, were confiscated during a patrol at Farazella between South Africa and Mozambique,  SA National Defence Force Captain Anelisiwe Tamela told Independent Online. Two vehicles were seen loading boxes of contraband along the border fence.