The thin camouflage line protecting South Africa’s landward borders has again hit the target seizing contraband valued at over R5 million on the illegal Limpopo and Mpumalanga access trade routes.
These soldiers, of which by the majority of the 13 companies currently deployed are Reserve Force units, were commended for their good work earlier this year by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief. Speaking at Armed Forces Day in Potchefstroom President Jacob Zuma said the border safeguarding tasking Operation Corona’s “success was visible through the illegal weapons seized and the recovery of stolen vehicles and livestock”.
Soldiers patrolling particularly the landward borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe spent most of their time chasing undocumented and illegal border crossers intent on putting millions of Rand of contraband goods into the South African black market.
“As has become the norm the illegal trade routes into South Africa from Mozambique and Zimbabwe were again where soldiers put in the most hours on patrol and deservedly so,” according to SANDF Joint Operations.
All goods confiscated in April were low grade cigarettes, liquor and clothing with cigarettes destined mainly for the spaza ships of informal settlements and unlicensed traders operating at bus and taxi ranks. The total value of cigarettes handed to Department of Customs and Excise officials by the SA Army was R3,4 million. Three hundred and twenty-three so-called “master boxes” each containing at least 50 cartons of cigarettes provided the bulk of the tobacco haul.
The eagle eyes of soldiers on routine patrol along the Mozambique/South Africa border led to a massive haul of dagga. An abandoned stash of more than 1 050kg of the narcotic, valued conservatively at around R1,5 million, is now also safely under lock and key.
While no mention was made in National Treasury’s Department of Defence budget allocation to increase the number of soldiers on border protection, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula can raise Operation Corona when she addresses the National Assembly on her budget vote next week.