The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has seized contraband items worth R70 000 on the border between South Africa and Mozambique as part of its duties to secure the country’s porous borders.
The SANDF said that on 27 June at about 2 am in the morning, Bravo Section of Bravo Company of 4 South African Infantry Battalion was conducting a foot patrol along the borderline between South Africa and Mozambique when they spotted ten men and four women carrying 14 bales of contraband.
As the section approached, they dropped the contraband and ran into Mozambique. As South African soldiers cannot cross the borderline in pursuit, the suspects got away. However, the contraband, comprising second hand clothes, was seized and valued by the South African Revenue Service at R70 000.
The SANDF has 15 companies deployed on Operation Corona border protection duty, which includes apprehending undocumented persons through to the confiscation of stolen vehicles, drugs and other contraband. An indication of how busy these solders are comes from some of their successes in May, when they confiscated dagga and dagga plants valued conservatively at R1.12 million; recovered livestock worth R75 000; arrested 35 known criminals; recovered 21 stolen vehicles; apprehended 1 356 undocumented persons and seized R2.6 million worth of contraband.
The Department of Defence said that as a sovereign state, South Africa has a duty to safeguard its borders against the possibility of transnational crime, international crime syndicates and cartels, the illegal flow of undocumented migrants, and illicit economic activities. Over the next three years, R3.1 billion has been allocated to deploy 15 companies along South Africa’s borders with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
In a separate incident, SANDF soldiers were last week involved in a shootout with robbers in Tonga near Malelane. On 24 June, two armed robbers tried to rob a restaurant at the shopping plaza in Tonga and demanded money and cellphones from staff members. However members of the SANDF who were in the vicinity were alerted by a community member of the robbery in progress.
Their quick response forced the robbers back into the shop. They then started shooting at the SANDF members and in the process, the soldiers summoned backup from the police and the nearby army base. The area was cordoned off and the suspects hid in the ceiling, the South African Police Service said.
Police as well as soldiers were fired on by the robbers and returned fire, killing both. They fell from the ceiling into a furniture shop next to the restaurant and were certified dead at the scene by paramedics. A firearm with live rounds was recovered. No other injuries were reported, the South African Police Service said.