Soldiers find, confiscate precious metals during border protection ops

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Confiscation of what the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) terms “precious materials” worth R3 300 by soldiers on the Operation Corona border protection tasking indicate illegally mined South African minerals and precious metals are being illegally exported.

The bust is attributed to SA Army soldiers deployed on the South Africa/Zimbabwe border in Limpopo in February, alongside R3 300 worth of weapons and the arrest of 20 “criminals”. Another border where illegal weapons were confiscated was Eastern Cape/Lesotho with a military valuation of R10 000.

All told, soldiers were involved with the recovery of livestock and moving stock grazing illegally valued at R3.6 million in the 29 days of February. Livestock from Lesotho worth R1.4 million grazing on Free State pastures was despatched back to the mountain kingdom and on the Eastern Cape/Lesotho border R2.2 million worth of livestock was recovered.

Soldiers posted on the Botswana border with the North West province also featured in the livestock recovery stakes. They ensured farmers in the province were again in possession of R26 000 worth of unspecified livestock.

Operation Corona yielded its by now standard fare of illegal immigrants – 420 – contraband and narcotics all told valued at R9.6 million and R3.3 million worth of stolen vehicles in February.

Meanwhile, this month (March) the SA Police Service (SAPS) in Limpopo put paid to a smuggling attempt, confiscating counterfeit cigarettes and liquor from Zimbabwe as well as an inflatable boat, 25 litres of diesel and homemade bridge/ladders to cross the Limpopo River.

During the operation, members of the SAPS intercepted a smuggling attempt and seized one inflatable boat, 25 litres of diesel, counterfeit cigarettes, and liquor that were being smuggled between South Africa and Zimbabwe. “Despite some suspects managing to evade arrest by fleeing on foot and crossing the Limpopo River, homemade wooden bridges used for illegal crossings were successfully dismantled during the operation,” the SAPS said of the 3 March bust.

In a separate incident, nine male Zimbabwean nationals were apprehended by the Vhembe District Proactive Police for contravening immigration Act during a separate Vala Umgodi operation. These individuals were arrested less than 10 kilometres from Beitbridge. The Department of Home Affairs Immigration Office was engaged for immediate deportation of the illegal immigrants, the SAPS added.