The recent confiscation of drugs worth millions of Rands and recovery of stolen vehicles is all in a day’s work for soldiers and officers working border protection under the national tasking Operation Corona.
As is often the case in border incidents, soldiers work with officials from other government agencies and departments.
For the drug intercept, soldiers enlisted the assistance of the SA Revenue Service (SARS) in the form of its sniffer dog unit, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) reports.
Soldiers on foot patrol along a railway line in the vicinity of an unnamed port of entry with Mozambique, apparently with a sniffer dog, followed suspects to a shack on 12 February where they found “a bag and five plastic bags containing a salt-like substance”. This was confirmed as being crystal meth valued at R1.2 million.
In a second incident, on the same stretch of land border, on 17 February, intelligence saw a foot patrol encounter three men on the road adjacent to the border fence on the South African side.
On being spotted, the men dropped two plastic bags and headed back to Mozambique. SARS and its sniffer dog was again summoned to confirm soldiers’ suspicion of illegal drug smuggling. Five containers, with a mass of 6.5kg were full of crystal meth and a further four, with a mass of 4.4 kg, were packed with heroin. The value of this haul is R2.26 million, bringing the total value of drugs intercepted on the South Africa/Mozambique border in five days this month to R3.3 million.
Proof positive the border protection tasking is not only an infantry one comes with the successful recovery of vehicles by Kimberley-based 10 Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Personnel patrolling the KwaZulu-Natal border with Mozambique were alerted to a stolen truck en route to South Africa’s eastern neighbour on 17 February. It was successfully recovered in KwaNdaba village and handed to police at Manguzi. The estimated value of the truck is R700 000. A second stolen vehicle, an SUV, was recovered at Mbazwana and handed to Hluhluwe police.