SA Army arrests 10 000 on Zim border

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The South African Army has this year so far arrested over 10 000 illegal border crossers on the Zimbabwe frontier.

This has emerged from a defence ministry answer to a question asked by Congress of the People MP LJ Tolo.          

The ministry says a total of 10 462 “foreigners” have been apprehended crossing the border illegally from January 1 to July. “All persons apprehended have been handed over to the SAPS for further processing.”

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

4584

2604

824

615

707

967

(161)

The military has been responsible for borderline security since 1987 but Cabinet in 2003 decided to return the function to the police. The military was to have withdrawn from the last border they still patrolled – the Zimbabwe line – by March 31.

But on March 17 the police requested they not withdraw and the Army was instructed to “retain a presence along the RSA/Zimbabwe border until after the 2010 Soccer World Cup” in terms of Presidential Minute 549/2009 of April 29. 

“Prior to commencing the withdrawal the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) had one battalion deployed along the RSA/Zimbabwe border. At present the SANDF has one company remaining”, the defence ministry says.

“The company is based in Musina and provides support in terms of border security along a 55 kilometre front stretching approximately 25 kilometres either side of the Beitbridge border post.”

The police remain responsible for the rest of the SA-Zimbabwe border as well as all other land borders, most of which are only marked with dilapidated fences. At peak the Army had 28 companies or roughly 3600 soldiers along SA`s 4862km land border.    

The police, by contrast have about 700 officers assigned to the same task.

    

Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu has indicated that the military could take back the function from the police in a reversal of the 2003 decision. 



Pic: A delapidated section of the Sa-Zimbabwe borderline as witnessed last month by DA MPs James Lorimer (left) and David Maynier. The SA Army maintained the fence until March.