Over 5 000kg of dagga confiscated by soldiers on border protection

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That the defence force makes a difference in border protection has again been illustrated with a large dope bust on the Lesotho/South Africa border.

Soldiers from 1 Artillery Regiment’s Alpha Company are currently deployed in the Ficksburg area as part of Operation Corona, the national border protection tasking.

While the majority of “contacts” along this border are stock and vehicle related the last week of last month saw a patrol encounter men transporting 619 kg of dagga with an estimated street value of more than R600 000, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said.

No arrests were made and the confiscated narcotic was handed to police in Ficksburg.
“This is another of the activities soldiers perform along with intercepting counterfeit goods, a major problem on this border,” he said, adding soldiers worked with other roleplayers such as the SA Revenue Service to stop goods entering South Africa illegally.

Since taking back the border protection duty previously assigned to the SA Police Service, the SANDF has stretched its landward resources and is currently deploying 13 companies, mostly infantry, along international borders. There are seven companies from Reserve Force units on Operation Corona duty at present.

Borders where patrols are regularly undertaken, working from nearby bases, are with Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and, in recent months, Botswana and Namibia.

Since May soldiers have confiscated more than 2 600 kg of dagga during soft contacts on the Mozambican, Swazi, Zimbabwean and now, Lesotho, borders. The total amount of dagga taken from illegals this year is, according to SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo, 5 173 kg.
“Soldiers have arrested 7 029 undocumented persons and confiscated contraband goods to the value of R42.2 million since the beginning of the year,” he told last month’s CArmy media briefing.

Regular patrols are now mounted along sections of the Namibia/South Africa border by Reserve Force unit, the Cape Town Highlanders. The company-strong deployment is housed outside Upington at the existing SANDF Louisvale base, which now boasts a re-deployable camp system providing better accommodation and facilities, including kitchen and ablution.

The camp system now at Louisvale was previously used by the Navy and has been pressed into Army service as a cost saving measure.

Soldiers patrolling this border are transported from the Louisvale base to the actual border for patrol duties which is expected to change before year-end to provide better patrol coverage of the Namibia/South Africa border.