South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers on Operation Corona border patrols have been celebrating yet more successes in Mpumalanga, after recovering stolen vehicles, smuggled goods, and drugs.
Lieutenant A Divhambele from 9 South African Infantry Battalion (9 SAI) said successes “came pouring in” since the battalion was deployed in April 2022. Bravo Company in the Macadamia Area of Operation “has been working hard in preventing the illegal crossing of goods and apprehending illegal immigrants from Mozambique into the Republic of South Africa. The goods include and are not limited to contrabands and pharmaceuticals from Mozambique into the Republic of South Africa and the smuggling of stolen vehicles from RSA to Mozambique,” Divhambele said.
Between 7 and 10 June, the Acting Company Commander, Captain MN Sani, together with the members of Bravo Company, recovered stolen vehicles that were to be smuggled into Mozambique. The recovered vehicles include a 2017 Toyota Fortuner valued at R450 000, a 2019 Fortuner valued at R650 000, and a 2020 Toyota Hilux valued at R700 000. Most of the recovered vehicles were reported stolen in Gauteng. They were handed over to Tonga SA Police Service for further investigation.
Charlie Company of 9 South African Infantry Battalion, under the command of Major K Qotyana, on the other hand, is deployed at Zonstraal, where they have been battling with the smuggling of cannabis and pharmaceuticals from eSwatini to South Africa and the smuggling of stolen vehicles from the South Africa to eSwatini.
The largest cannabis, or dagga, seizure amounted to over R4 million, with the latest seizure worth an estimated R667 000. “Both the cannabis and the vehicles that are found aiding and abetting are handed over to SA Police Service in Piet Retief and Oshoek respectively where further legal processes will take place,” Divhambele reported.
“Other goods such as clothes, shoes, home furniture and other items are handed over to the SA Revenue Service where the owners can go and claim them, receive a fine for failing to cross the goods at the Port of Entry and then receive their goods back. These actions vary from case to case and are executed according to SA Revenue Service policies,” Divhambele concluded.
The weekend’s successes come after a ‘hectic week’ for soldiers on border patrol, who the SANDF reports confiscated over R4 million worth of illicit goods, including explosives. Amongst the seizures and recoveries earlier this month were nine sheep and 57 goats being smuggled by boat from Zimbabwe; a Mercedes Benz truck coming from Botswana with R1.4 million worth of contraband; hundreds of Super Power 90 industrial explosive packages; and half a dozen stolen vehicles.
In the month of May, soldiers were responsible for 1 541 illegal immigrants being handed to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) immigration officials. June will, in all probability, show similar numbers with the month starting with the arrest of 158 apparently illegal immigrants attempting to enter South Africa from Lesotho in a multi-vehicle convoy.
Last month, border patrols, stop and search points and roadblocks netted soldiers dagga conservatively worth R3.1 million. Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were the major suppliers of the drug intercepted by soldiers.