The new year has been very much a case of business as usual for soldiers deployed on border protection. One stated objective of maintaining South Africa’s territorial integrity and ensuring national sovereignty is seen in the apprehension of over two thousand undocumented persons with the bulk of work being policing, confiscating contraband, recovering stolen vehicles and impounding livestock amongst others.
Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, senior staff officer, operational communications at SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division, said the total value of goods seized, impounded and/or recovered in January and February was conservatively estimated at R16.7 million during Operation Corona patrols, roadblocks and other actions.
“The first two months of the year are traditionally quiet with ‘business’ starting to pick up ahead of the Easter period,” he said.
What has now become known in defence circles as the “busy borders”, South Africa’s boundaries with Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe again lived up to expectations. The only notable exception came from Lesotho/Free State border where livestock valued at over R2 million was impounded.
Contraband, again conservatively valued at R2.95 million, mostly cigarettes, trainers and mobile phones was taken from illegal smugglers and handed to police.
Similarly narcotics with an estimated street value of R1.1 million were confiscated. This included over 400 kg of dagga, 2 500 dagga plants and seeds as well as other narcotics in pill form.
The first eight weeks of the year saw soldiers recover 30 stolen vehicles with a value of over R10 million. All were on the way to the neighbouring countries of Mozambique, Swaziland or Zimbabwe, Paxton said.