Soldiers deployed on border protection duties in Free State last month (October) reported 232 head of livestock recovered in line with reported rises in this type of theft as well as farm attacks in areas close to the Lesotho border.
Livestock theft has long been a problem for farming communities in the Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Ladybrand, Wepener and Zastron areas abutting the border with the landlocked mountain kingdom. The vicious killing of a young farm manager in Paul Roux in September, said by some to have been the work of a livestock theft syndicate, again put the rural security issue in South Africa’s central province. Allegations of police involvement in theft of cattle and sheep have been raised as agricultural representative associations, police management and political parties seek to up protection for farmers, their families and workers.
Statistics for October released by the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) show soldiers on Free State borders with Lesotho recovered 93 cattle and a further 139 head of “small stock” (goats and sheep).
The only other province where stolen stock was recovered was the Eastern Cape, which also borders Lesotho.
Soldiers and other SA Army units tasked with border protection under the Operation Corona banner patrolling South Africa’s land borders with Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe rounded up 1 551 undocumented persons, aka illegal immigrants. The majority – 1 144 – attempted to enter South Africa illegally from Zimbabwe with a further 87 Mozambicans apprehended in Mpumalanga.
South Africa’s border with Mozambique in KwaZulu-Natal has long been a popular exit point for stolen vehicles. Of 33 vehicles recovered nationally by soldiers in October, 15 were in KwaZulu-Natal. The provincial authority, via its Department of Roads and Transport and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is casting and positioning concrete Jersey barriers to physically stop vehicles leaving the country illegally.
Contraband, mainly cigarettes and liquor, valued at R7.7 million was confiscated by soldiers and handed to police and SA Revenue Service officials for disposal.
Narcotics, excluding dagga, valued at R3.8 million was taken from smugglers. One thousand three hundred plus kilogrammes of dagga was confiscated along South Africa’s borders with Lesotho and Mozambique. No monetary value was given.