December a busy month for Operation Corona border forces


December was a busy month for South African Army soldiers deployed on Operation Corona border protection duty in terms of illegal immigrants apprehended and contraband seized, ranging from cigarettes through to clothing, liquor, livestock and dagga.

Between December 1 and 31, soldiers deployed along South Africa’s land borders confiscated a mammoth R8.455 million worth of contraband including thousands of cartons of cigarettes, whisky and other liquor as well as counterfeit clothing carrying, among others, the Adidas and Nike brand names.

Also stopped and handed to officials from the Department of Home Affairs and the SA Police Service were close to 6 000 undocumented people, by far the majority of whom attempted to enter South Africa from Mozambique.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton said the two newest Operation Corona deployments – on the Botswana and Namibia borders – had also yielded results in the form of people attempting to enter South Africa illegally.
“Twenty-nine people were apprehended in North West, after they apparently came across the South Africa/Botswana border, and soldiers patrolling the South Africa/Namibia border encountered two Namibians without the necessary documentation,” he said.

Smuggling of cigarettes into South Africa has long been a favourite of those intent on beating the country’s tax and excise duty system and December proved no different with soldiers on duty on the South Africa/Mozambique border netting no less than 88 so-called master boxes of cigarettes, each containing 50 cartons, and a further 1 800 cartons in a single day of patrolling.

Overall the month saw soldiers confiscate in excess of 21 000 cartons of cigarettes.

The Free State border with South Africa has long been known as an entry point for dagga and patrolling soldiers confiscated more than 1 500 kg of the illegal weed. Paxton said police estimated its street value as R1.7 million.