The porosity of South Africa’s borders, particularly with Mozambique and Zimbabwe, is highlighted by the arrest of large number of illegal immigrants and the confiscation of millions of Rand worth of contraband by soldiers on the border protection tasking Operation Corona.
April to May to date has seen 3 193 illegal immigrants apprehended by soldiers and handed to police and the Department of Home Affairs for further processing.
In the same timeframe soldiers confiscated goods valued at R8.3 million, according to figures supplied by the SANDF’s Joint Operations Division. Cigarettes form the largest part of goods seized. As an example, soldiers patrolling the South African/Zimbabwean border in Limpopo were involved in 16 incidents involving smugglers attempting to bring cigarettes into the country on which no import tax or excise duty has been paid.
The single biggest haul saw 69 master boxes and 45 cartons of cigarettes impounded. In carton terms hauls ranged from 734 through two. So keen are the would-be smugglers to sell their illegal goods in South Africa that even small quantities, as few as five packets of cigarettes, have been impounded.
In the first five months of the year soldiers confiscated clothing valued at over R200 000 destined for flea markets. Ninety-five pairs of trainers were also confiscated.
TV sets, decoders, tables and chairs as well as a refrigerator are among the more unusual items taken from illegal immigrants.
Close on 2 000 kg of dagga is now in police safekeeping thanks to the vigilance of soldiers.