SANDF winding up internal operations

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The South African National Defence Force is winding up its long-running Operation Intexo, in terms of which it was responsible for borderline control.
The SANDF`s Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima on Friday confirmed borderline operations would end on 10 March to comply with a Cabinet decision made some two years ago to withdraw the military from borderline control and hand back the function to the SA police Service.
The SANDF`s predecessor, the SA Defence Force, gradually took over borderline control from the police from 1987 as guerrilla activities across the border escalated. At the same time more police were needed in the townships, then seething with anti-apartheid unrest.
The “Norex” electric fence along portions of the Zimbabwe and Mozambique borders was built in 184 and 1985 and replaced an earlier natural hedge of sisal plants sown between 1980 and 1983.       
Major General Barney Hlatshwayo, the General Officer Commanding the Joint Operational Headquarters added that the last two rifle companies assigned to the task were still deployed along the Zimbabwe border with 99 soldiers at Madimbo and 97 at Musina. 
A smooth transition promised
They will shortly return to barracks and on 31 March – the last day of the government financial year – the function and facilities will be handed over to the police 
He told journalists a “smooth transition of borderline control operations from the SANDF to the police without leaving any gaps or vacuums [in order to] to prevent security risks is of utmost importance.”
However, SANDF officers unofficially fret that the police is currently unready to take back the function. They say the boundary was formerly patrolled by paramilitary police counterinsurgency units that no longer exist. These had logistical and medical support and could patrol the frontiers in a way similar to the military.
This has long fallen by the wayside. The officers say police already deployed along the Lesotho and Mozambique borders work office hours, have no logistical, medical or air support, are provided a stipend rather than rations and patrol by vehicle, not on foot.
The officers note much of the terrain cannot be crossed by vehicle, is unpopulated meaning neither medical help nor food is readily available, and can now be crossed at will by illegal immigrants at criminals after hours or on weekends.     
  
Refocus
The winding up of Intexo would not see the SANDF disappear from the domestic scene, however. Support to other State Departments still occurs on a continuous basis, said Hlatshwayo. He noted the SANDF is currently helping civil authorities fighting fires in the Western Cape and under Operation Human was providing water to two drought stricken municipalities – one in the Western and one in the Eastern Cape. It was also supplying a water purification service in support of the Department of Health in Musina to help combat cholera.
The SANDF will also continue to support the police as well under the rubric Operation Prosper, assisting the latter with air assets and troops in crime prevention operations in addition to lending a hand in maritime and air borderline control functions “within the available defence capabilities”.
Hlatshwayo added that no SANDF forces would be permanently allocated to Prosper activities, or to Carona (border safeguarding operations), Chariot (disaster support and humanitarian Assistance) or Arabella (search-and-rescue).
Matanzima`s chief director of operations, Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz hastened to add that the codenames were “budget” names, not actual operational monikers “You will not see those names when we conduct operations. Those names we`ve allocated so we can put it on the budget; so we know at the end of the financial year, we`ve spent so much on search-and-rescue, etcetera”.
One example of a Prosper operation was the Navy`s assistance to the police`s Christmas anticrime drive, Operation Festive Season, which saw the deployment of the frigate SAS Isandlwana.