Guns, drugs and illegal immigrants all in a day’s work for SANDF soldiers

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South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers on Operation Corona border patrol are being kept busy into the new year, with multiple successes reported.

Soldiers from 4 South African Infantry Battalion deployed at Maluti Operational Base recently conducted a joint operation with other government departments, reports Captain Thamsanqa Hoyi, Acting Staff Officer 3 Operational Communications, Joint Tactical Headquarters Eastern Cape.

Operation Maqalika took place on 9 and 10 January and saw two weapons recovered (an unlicensed Star 9 mm pistol with three rounds and a homemade gun). Traffic operations netted 24 traffic fines amounting to R25 800 and the arrest of two suspects in possession of drugs. Soldiers and law enforcement officials also recovered 15 sheep with estimated value of R16 500, three abandoned trailers, and dagga with an estimated value of R5 750. Four undocumented persons were apprehended.

In Limpopo, members of 1 SA Tank Regiment under the command of Joint Tactical Headquarters Limpopo arrested 49 undocumented persons, including one in possession of a 9 mm Norinco pistol with the serial number removed. The pistol as well as its ammunition were handed over to the SA Police Services for forensic investigations, reports Captain Moses Semono. The person in possession of the weapon was part of a group driving a BMW SUV, which was confiscated.

The festive season usually sees an uptick in illegal activity, especially with regard to the movement of undocumented persons. In December, soldiers handed 6 605 undocumented persons to police and Department of Home Affairs immigration officials for processing to return to their country of origin. This is 3 665 more than were arrested by police between 1 and 29 December as part of SA Police Service (SAPS) nationwide Safer Festive Season operations.

Worth noting in Operation Corona December statistics is confiscation of R1.4 million plus of illegal drugs, most of its dagga but also crystal meth taken from smugglers along the Free Stater/Lesotho border.

Soldiers last month prevented 13 vehicles being taken out of the country with eight of those destined for Mozambique.

November Operation Corona statistics from the Joint Operations Division showed contraband to the value of over R5.7 million was confiscated by soldiers. Cigarettes and liquor are generally top of the smugglers’ lists followed by counterfeit branded clothing and footwear with pharmaceuticals, including for sexual health, also confiscated by soldiers in recent months.

Over a thousand illegal immigrants were stopped by soldiers and handed to police and immigration officers in November.