Soldiers on border duty seize and recover goods valued at R60 million plus


Soldiers from both the full-time and Reserve Force components of the SA Army continue patrolling South Africa’s landward borders preventing undocumented people from entering the country and confiscating contraband and narcotics.

Additionally, the soldiers recover stolen vehicles, livestock and firearms during regular patrols along thousands of kilometres of land border with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland (eSwatini) and Zimbabwe.

A report on operational successes of the border protection tasking Operation Corona prepared for this week’s briefing by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke, shows the total value of confiscations at over R60 million between January and July this year.

This is made up of illegal substances and narcotics (R12 765 284), contraband (R11 667 318), 113 recovered vehicles valued at R29 606 434, livestock worth R6 340 000 and 22 unlicensed firearms, including three rifles.

SANDF Joint Operations Division spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton said the narcotics, with by far the most of it refined dagga and plants, was seized on three provincial borders with Lesotho – Free State, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Lesotho also features prominently when it comes to livestock rustling with the Free State/Lesotho border being where the majority of livestock was impounded. Cattle, goats and sheep were the major types of livestock recovered.

All R11 million plus worth of contraband taken from smugglers was handed to the SA Police Service, Paxton said. The selling of fake branded clothing and footwear as well as “cheap, illegal cigarettes” and liquor in mainly the informal markets and spaza shops of Gauteng was stopped in this way.

Stolen vehicles were recovered by military patrols on the land borders with KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, making Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe major markets for vehicles stolen in South Africa.

The actual prevention of illegals, or undocumented persons, coming into South Africa, originally the prime objective of the tasking, saw 7 955 apprehensions in the first half of the year. By far the majority were intercepted coming across either the Mozambican or Zimbabwean borders. These people were all stopped by patrols away from recognised points of entry that will in future fall under the control of the still to be established Border Management Authority (BMA).

Indications are the status quo for border protection outside official points of entry, currently the responsibility of the national defence force, will remain in place with the Department of Home Affairs controlling the BMA.