Flow of illegal immigrants to South Africa continues, soldiers intercept over three thousand

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January 2024 was much the same as the previous month for soldiers deployed on the border protection tasking Operation Corona with the notable addition of a large increase in the number of “undocumented persons” stopped by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

In December, the “haul” of illegal immigrants handed to police and Department of Home Affairs (DHA) officials was 1 383. This number rose substantially to 3 205 in January, with 1 584 Mozambicans intercepted while on their illegal way to South Africa. By far the bulk of these – 1539 – crossed the Mozambique/South Africa border in the Mpumalanga province with a further having their journey unceremoniously cut short after entering the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Next highest were Zimbabweans with 788 stopped by soldiers along the 233 km land border with South Africa.

Sixty-two behind was Lesotho with 655 Basotho stopped on the Eastern Cape provincial land border with the mountain kingdom and a further 71 denied entry to South Africa on the Free State border with the landlocked state. The total number of Basotho stopped in January – 726 – is 171 more than in December.

Narcotics, types not specified by the Joint Operations Division of the SANDF, valued at over R2.5 million, were confiscated from smugglers on South Africa’s land borders with Eswatini, Mozambique and Namibia.

Additionally, soldiers stopped 38 of what Joint Operations terms “criminals” and handed them to police. No details are supplied of how the “criminals” were identified allowing soldiers to accost them. Twenty were nabbed on the KwaZulu-Natal/Mozambique border, 11 on the Limpopo/Zimbabwe border, seven on the Free State/Lesotho border and one on the Eastern Cape/Lesotho border.

Contraband, including three separate illicit cigarette busts by Bambatha Rifles on the Limpopo/Zimbabwe border, totalled R6.4 million in January.