July was a good month for soldiers deployed on border protection but not a good month for tobacco product smugglers looking to make the proverbial killing in locked down South Africa.
Cigarettes conservatively valued at over R10 million were confiscated and handed to police and SA Revenue Service (SARS) officials to be used as evidence in court and then destroyed.
While nowhere near the value of confiscated cigarettes soldiers seized alcohol, also a sought after commodity in lockdown South Africa, worth R180 000 from smugglers over the same 31 day period.
Narcotics with a street value of R2.4 million were seized and handed to customs officials and police. Linked to these and other contraband, 38 people were apprehended. Twelve vehicles were recovered and handed to police.
On the borders of Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Eastern Cape dagga with a mass of more than 1 600 kg to the value of over R3 million was confiscated.
According to a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) statement issued by Lieutenant Colonel Connie Silwer there are currently 2 845 soldiers tasked with border safeguarding (Operation Corona). They are stationed at strategic points on South Africa’s borders with eSwatini, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The number of military personnel now deployed in support of the national state of disaster lockdown (Operation Notlela) is down to over the 10 500 mark following the April “employment” of 71 000 plus national defence force personnel from all four services – air force, army, military health and navy – bolstered by the Reserve Force and auxiliaries who volunteered.