Combining training with hands-on patrol work saw two SA Army units score a notable success in the fight against contraband and counterfeit goods in the early hours of Friday last week.
A company from 14 SA Infantry Battalion is currently deployed on the South Africa/Mozambique border as part of the national border protection tasking Operation Corona.
A patrol from the unit was working night-time battlefield intelligence and surveillance in conjunction with troops from 1 Tactical Intelligence Regiment from Friday into Saturday between the Lebombo border post and Macadamia base.
Moving on foot the infantry patrol came across a pile of trainers, all Adidas and Nike branded and counterfeit, said Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, Staff Officer, Operational Communication, South African National Defence Force Joint Operations Division.
“The pile of footwear was unguarded and soldiers took it away and counted the trainers before handing them to police,” he said adding the seized counterfeit footwear totalled 1 103 pairs with a conservative street value of close to R900 000.
It was not immediately clear whether the footwear had been left ahead of collection for transport to Gauteng or dumped to allow the smugglers to get away from the soldiers.
14 SAI were also part of the “action” last month that saw four vehicles, with a total value of more than R2.1 million, intercepted in South Africa before they could be driven across the Mozambique border.
These are the first two major successes recorded to date this year by Op Corona and bring to more than R3 million the value of goods recovered and confiscated.
Last year saw the 2 700 soldiers on border duty confiscate goods (mostly cigarettes, liquor, clothing and footwear); drugs, mostly dagga; vehicles and livestock valued at more than R123 million.
There are currently 15 companies deployed on South Africa’s landward borders with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe tasked with keeping undocumented immigrants out and halting the flow of illegal goods into South Africa.
Soldiers based on South Africa’s border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the Kruger National Park have the added task of assisting the park’s ranger corps and other law enforcement agencies with fighting rhino poaching in the world-famous game reserve.