SANDF returns to Overstrand to combat poaching

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The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has once again deployed to the Overstrand region of the Western Cape to combat the poaching of abalone and other marine resources, and curb other illegal activity.

SANDF representatives were on 10 October welcomed to the region by Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dr Annelie Rabie, in Hermanus.

“The armed forces are currently busy planning for operations within the Overstrand related to the protection of our marine resources,” the mayor’s office said, adding that Rabie has pledged the support of the Overstrand Municipality for this endeavour.

“As particulars of the operations are classified, this notification serves to inform the public of their presence in the area,” the Municipality said. However, based on previous deployments, the deployment is likely falling under the maritime protection Operation Corona and will probably encompass patrols between Lamberts Bay and Cape Infanta.

At least one Namacurra harbour patrol boat has been seen undertaking patrols off the coast of Gansbaai, and soldiers have been seen in the area.

The SANDF said that its Overstrand deployment is under the operational command of Joint Tactical Headquarters Western Cape and comprises of the South African Army, South African Navy, South African Military Health Services, and Military Police working in conjunction with the South African Police Service, local law enforcement, Cape Nature and Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE).

The deployment got off to a start with land and sea patrols along the Eastern coastline of the Western Cape, in particular the Overstrand and Overberg.

The Acting Officer Commanding Joint Tactical Headquarters Western Cape, Lieutenant Colonel Johannes Petrus Yzelle, said the operation’s main objective is to “conduct maritime border safeguarding operations using coastal and land patrols to protect the marine resources against illegal harvesting and to prevent any boats and divers in the area from going out to sea to conduct illegal activities”.

The SANDF regularly carries out maritime security patrols in the Western Cape to combat poaching and last year deployed in February and August under Operation Corona. In previous deployments, millions of rands worth of abalone have been recovered, boats and vehicles confiscated, drugs seized and multiple suspects arrested, amongst other successes.