The use of “large rocks” as obstacles to prevent passage of vehicles among others is “a military tactic of war” and does not fall into the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s (DPWI) ambit for border infrastructure.
This is the essence of a lengthy response by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to a Parliamentary question. The question was initially put to DPWI Minister Patricia de Lille, as her department is responsible for border infrastructure and its maintenance, by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Samantha Graham-Maré in her capacity as shadow deputy public works minister. Evidence of DWPI’s involvement in border infrastructure is the upgrade of fencing adjacent the Beit Bridge port of entry earlier this year.
The question stemmed from the use of excess rocks, obtained at no charge from a quarry in northern KwaZulu-Natal, as obstacles along sections of the border with Mozambique identified by intelligence as being preferred routes for vehicle thieves and smugglers.
Mapisa-Nqakula told Graham-Maré the “rock solution” first employed five years ago was “a tactical measure to assist border safeguarding with regard to preventing illegal cross-border movement and vehicle theft”.
“It is not a solution but a military tactic of war, where soldiers create or put obstacles to stop movement or limit speed of movement. The concept can be adopted to address the porousness of our borders,” the Defence Minister said, adding it has been “adopted” and modified by the KZN provincial government.
“Modified Jersey barriers are to be installed on the borderline to replace the boulders and railway sleepers soldiers put up. These modified barriers are 1.5 metres high, more stable as well as long term infrastructure to prevent vehicular or wheeled movement across the borderline,” the Ministerial response reads.
A Jersey barrier or wall is a modular concrete or plastic barrier employed to separate lanes of traffic.