The South African Navy, the police and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) are currently engaged in a maritime border patrol of the SA east coat from Cape Agulhas to Kosi Bay. Police spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer says the operation began Tuesday and will continue all month.
De Beer says the objective “is to enforce legislation along the SA coastline, which is of strategic importance to the country – both as an economic area and as a transportation route.” She says the patrol force consists of the SAS Amatola, and the DEA Marine and Coastal Management fisheries protection vessel SA Lilian Ngoyi. Aboard the Amatola are police, state security agents as well as customs officials from the South African Revenue Service, representatives of the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
A South African Air Force Lynx helicopter is lending aerial assistance in locating and identifying vessels to board, De Beer adds. She says the inter-departmental law enforcement project will focus on locating, stopping and searching vessels and crews and, if necessary, seizing vessels transgressing South African law. “The main focus will be the search for drug trafficking, the smuggling of humans, weapons and counterfeit goods and fishery transgressions.” Boardings will be conducted mainly on vessels up to and including 500 tonnes which includes coasters, fishing vessels, yachts and leisure craft.
Within hours of having set sail, by early Wednesday morning, three vessels had already been approached and interrogated by the security forces, De Beer noted. The operation is being commanded by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) situated in Pretoria. During the trip, the vessels will visit the ports of East London, Port Elizabeth and Durban. The SAS Umzimkulu, a Navy mine counter-measures vessel, will join the operation in Durban.
“This is one of the joint security-related exercises being conducted in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” De Beer said on behalf of the NATJOINTS.