Proof that soldiers deployed on border protection face potentially lethal situations comes from the South Africa/Mozambique border where a patrol had to employ speedy evasion tactics to avoid being run down by stolen vehicles gunning for the safety of Mozambique.
Soldiers of 14 SA Infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company were on a regular patrol some 40 km south of the Lebombo border post in Mpumalanga last week when they heard vehicles approaching.
“Assuming – correctly – that the vehicles were stolen, the patrol deployed to specific positions with one soldier tasked with stopping the vehicles using hand signals. This was not successful and he had to take speedy evasive action to prevent being hit by one of the vehicles,” said Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, Staff Officer, Operational Communication, SANDF Joint Operations Division.
“The soldiers fired four shots in an attempt to force the vehicles to stop. This had no effect with the four vehicle convoy speeding up as they attempted to escape.
“Soon after the vehicles – a pair of Toyota Hilux double cab bakkies, a Ford Ranger double cab bakkie and a Nissan truck – were intercepted and brought to a halt. All four drivers, the only occupants of the vehicles, managed to evade arrest by running off into the bush and leaving keys in the ignition.”
Paxton said a police investigation brought to light the bakkies were stolen in Limpopo and North West with the truck reported stolen in Gauteng. The value of the four vehicles is estimate at over R2.1 million.
The 14 SAI soldiers are part of the current Operation Corona border protection deployment, along with both full-time and Reserve Force soldiers from 14 other units.
In the 2017 calendar year, goods, vehicles and livestock conservatively valued at R123 121 542 were either confiscated by soldiers or recovered for the rightful owners in the case of livestock and vehicles.