The Southern African Development Community (SADC), in the form of its senior police organisation, was, along with its East African counterpart, major components of this year’s Operation Usalama.
The operation, facilitated by Interpol, saw the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) and the Eastern African Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (EAPCO), involved in a series of multi-disciplinary operations conducted simultaneously in 28 countries.
This year’s Usalama was the sixth of its kind and ran for a week in early November, targeting ports of entry, borderlines and inland areas with the aim of curbing transnational organised crimes such as the smuggling of vehicles, contraband, drugs, human trafficking and livestock.
According to the Office of the SA Police Service (SAPS) National Commissioner Khehla Sithole, the South African side of the operation saw the recovery of 20 vehicles worth over R15 million. This included 15 vehicles being smuggled out of the country and five smuggled into South Africa. Five unlicensed firearms, drugs including dagga, mandrax and methamphetamine (tik) worth an estimated R579 000 as well as concealed and undeclared South African currency totalling R221 533 was seized during the operation as well as counterfeit goods worth R4 million.
Livestock including cattle, goats, sheep and horses with an estimated value of R700 000 was recovered at various land borders and an endangered pangolin was also recovered.
The National Commissioner’s statement mentions a minibus taxi carrying 45 people “suspected to have been trafficked into the country via the Beit Bridge port of entry was intercepted and the victims handed to the Department of Home Affairs for processing”.
Usalama, Swahili for security, was also active at South Africa’s major air port of entry – OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni. Successes recorded included seizure of undeclared goods for further investigation as well as two tons of un-manifested cargo containing dried fish and fruits, spices and maize meal intercepted and handed to the relevant government department for further investigation.