Drugs worth over R6 million seized during April Operation Corona patrols

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SA Army soldiers posted on KwaZulu-Natal’s borders with Eswatini and Mozambique prevented over R5.5 million worth of illegal drugs from reaching South African users in April.

The haul makes up the majority of the R6 883 030 worth of drugs confiscated from smugglers on all South Africa’s land borders during the fourth month of 2024 as part of the ongoing SA National Defence Force (SANDF) border protection tasking, Operation Corona.

The drugs – types not specified by the Joint Operations Division – were intercepted, confiscated and handed to police on the Free State border with Lesotho (R781 568), Limpopo/Zimbabwe (R485 106) and North West/Botswana (R80 388).

Unspecified contraband, ranging from cigarettes and other tobacco products, through to liquor, cosmetics, clothing, footwear and pharmaceuticals, valued at over R900 000 was taken from would-be smugglers along South Africa’s four land borders last month.

The single highest bust, value-wise, was along the Mpumalanga/Mozambique border at R586 930. Number two in yield came on Kwazulu-Natal’s twin international borders valued at R223 860. On the Free State and Eastern Cape borders with Lesotho, soldiers took R120 000 worth of contraband from smugglers.

Illegal immigrants continue to make their way to South Africa with soldiers, as well as Border Management Authority (BMA) guards and officials as well as police deployed to curb unlawful entry. April saw 461 intercepted and handed to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) officials with Basotho, at 173, numbering the most. Next highest contribution, as it were, came from Zimbabwe (143) followed distantly by Botswana, on 21. This is well up on the 186 “undocumented persons” stopped by soldiers in March.

A notable seizure in April was that of weapons, again type and calibre not specified, taken from Basotho attempting access to South Africa via its Free State border.

With soldiers patrolling South Africa’s land borders, police were able to seize nearly R5 million worth of suspected cocaine being transported across Mpumalanga. The South African Police Service (SAPS) said it apprehended a 23-year-old man with about R4 583 370 worth of suspected cocaine on 2 May.

According to a police report, a white KIA bakkie pulling a trailer was traveling on the N4 near Nelspruit when the trailer broke free. Nelspruit police arrived on the accident scene and discovered eight crates of a white powder.

As members were suspicious, they called their counterparts from the K9 Unit of the police as well as members from Directorate for Priority Crime Investigative (DPCI) Unit. Eleven kilograms of suspected cocaine was discovered and confiscated. It will undergo tests while the driver was taken in for further questioning. Police believe the consignment could have been on its way to Gauteng.