Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko has elaborated on Operation Corona, the border protection tasking of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), pointing out soldiers had confiscated contraband to the value of more than R9 million.
He told a Cabinet Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster briefing in Cape Town there were now 13 sub-units (companies) “executing” border safeguarding in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West Provinces as part of Phase Four of the on-going operation.
The SANDF took back border protection duties from the SA Police Service in 2009 and has had considerable success in stopping the movement of illegal goods, mainly cigarettes and liquor, into South Africa. Operational successes mentioned by Nhleko during the briefing included more than three thousand illegal foreigners arrested, 156 criminals arrested, 29 stolen vehicles recovered and contraband goods to the value of more than R9 million confiscated. He did not give a timeframe in which these successes were achieved.
“In order to make the cluster theme ‘Working together, building safer communities’ a living slogan, the SANDF has embarked on community outreach programmes along borders where soldiers are stationed.
“SANDF units are actively involved in community outreach programmes in the Pongola and Mpumalanga areas. Their contributions include using own resources (own income) raised through donations to build shelters for the poor and needy. Feeding scheme projects are undertaken to support families and orphans with food hampers on a weekly basis in the Pongola area. As part of a project ‘Caregiver to the poorest’, the project focused on feeding orphans, building 10 houses and assisting the community in obtaining identification cards. The SA Army also assisted the youth at schools by organising sports activities and buying school uniforms and books. Whilst deployed along the Swaziland border and surrounding areas of Pongola, local chiefs, farmers and municipal leaders were visited as part of community interactions to establish good relations,” the Police Minister said.
Writing in the 2013/14 Department of Defence annual report, SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, points out the military has “made its presence felt on our borders”.
“The SANDF has registered operational successes against illegal cross-border activities which have negative implications for South Africa’s economic growth. Among others, firearms, drugs and illegal goods were seized at our border areas and arrests made.
“The SANDF will continue to build capacity for full-scale deployment of sub-units for border safeguarding. This will ensure the unfortunate situation of illegal cross-border activities is reduced if not eliminated.”