Op Corona patrols net contraband worth millions in July

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SA Army soldiers tasked with ensuring South Africa’s land borders are as user-unfriendly as possible to illegal immigrants, smugglers and vehicle thieves had a busy July, confiscating just short R19 of million worth of contraband before it could reach consumers without the necessary import duties and taxes being paid.

Zimbabwean purveyors of goods ranging from counterfeit clothing and footwear through to cosmetics, liquor and pharmaceuticals were hardest hit losing R16 million worth of “product”. Second on the Operation Corona July loss list were Mozambican smugglers who found themselves out of pocket to the tune of at least a million Rand following SA Army interventions, supported by police and SA Revenue Service (SARS) customs officials. A long way back, losing goods valued at R50 000, were Basuto smugglers attempting to enter South Africa along the Eastern Cape/Lesotho border.

Illegal immigration, following a slight drop in June to 642, was up by over 300 in July to stand at 966. As has become the norm, more Mozambicans (471) attempted to enter South Africa across its borders with KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Seven Zimbabweans short of the 300 mark found themselves facing soldiers, police and immigration officials after they were intercepted.

Drugs, not specified by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division, but generally with dagga the major one, valued at just short of R347 000 was confiscated and handed to police. Mozambique again led the way on the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga borders.

Soldiers prevented an unspecified number of vehicles from illegally being exported to Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The vehicles are valued at over R3.6 million.