I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the distinguished members of the media to this operations’ briefing today. Indeed, we are delighted that you have accepted our invitation.
The briefing will be about OPERATION CORONA, but, we may discuss external operations briefly. However today’s briefing will be more on land borders.
In terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, it is the South African National Defence Force’s responsibility to safeguard our land, air and maritime borders. The South African government took a conscious decision to declare border safeguarding a national priority
Members of the media and public are aware that the South African Police Service is withdrawing from the duty of safeguarding our land borders to concentrate more on the high levels of crime.
I wish to inform the South African public that in line with our constitutional responsibility the South African National Defence Force has returned to the borders with effect from April 2010. The return to the borders will be effected in a five-phase approach over the next four years with a total of twenty-two (22) companies.
In her 2011 Budget Vote Speech, the Honourable Minister of Defence and Military Veterans referred to border security as follows.
“We promised to return to the borders and we can report we have done so. We are currently covering 1 500 kilometres of the border.
At the end of the full deployment, it is estimated that the SANDF would cover 4 471 kilometres of land border, 2 700 kilometres of maritime border and 7 660 kilometres of air border.
We took the opportunity to invite members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence to see the formidable challenges that we are faced with as we took over the responsibility. Now South Africa is reaping the benefits of our deployment. Our borders are most secure, cross-border crime has dropped, syndicate crime has been dealt a blow and our communities and the farmers feel safer, because they believe in us”.
The outline of the SANDF’s landward border protection roll-out plan consists of the following phases:
Phase 1 (2010/2011). This phase ended in March 2011 with four companies already deployed on the North-East Zimbabwe and Mozambique borders. Two engineering troops were deployed in support to repair border fences.
Phase 2 (2011/2012). This phase started in the new financial year (April 2011) and includes the deployment of three companies to the Kruger National Park (Mozambique), Lesotho and Swaziland borders respectively.
Phase 3 (2012/2013). Four additional companies will deploy on the Zimbabwe,
Lesotho and Swaziland borders.
Phase 4 (2013/2014). The focus in this deployment will be on the Botswana/Namibian borders, but will also include deployments on the Lesotho border.
Phase 5 (2014/2015). Deployments will concentrate along the Botswana and Namibian frontiers. Additional deployments will include Swaziland and Mozambique. By this time all twenty-two (22) companies would be deployed and safeguarding South Africa’s land borders.
Although the above phases are spread over a period of five years, however, the Minister has directed that all these phases be compressed into a three year period running up to 2014.
The SANDF is the lead department in the border safeguarding, but requires the co-operation of various state departments namely: Agriculture, Health, Home Affairs, Public Works, South African Police Services, State Security and Tourism to ensure our success and effectiveness. The land border safeguarding will be conducted mainly by the South African Army soldiers supported by the South African Air Force and South African Military Health Services elements. These will be operating in identified mission areas conducting day and night high mobility operations.
I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal to the members of the community where we are deployed to be supportive to the SANDF members in fulfilment of their noble- call.
I would also in the same vein like to take this opportunity to issue a stern warning to the illegal border-crossers and rhino poachers that we don’t want any casualties and that pulling a gun against a soldier is the last thing they should attempt to do.
I thank you
Issued by: Department of Defence
(Defence Corporate Communication)
Enquiries: Colonel Petrus Motlhabane
Cell: 072 288 3402