Soldiers on Op Corona deployment recover six stolen vehicles


Further proof of the valuable police work done by soldiers deployed on border protection comes from the Mpumalanga/Mozambique border where six stolen vehicles were recovered before they could be illegally spirited into South Africa’s eastern neighbour.

9 SA Infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company currently calls Macadamia base home and from here a platoon deployed on patrol work noticed “unusual vehicle movement” from an observation post on 1 October at around 5:45 in the morning. Two soldiers were despatched to investigate and came across six vehicles parked close to the border.

The drivers in two vehicles saw the soldiers and hastily crossed the border before they could be intercepted but the drivers of the other vehicles were not as speedy on the uptake. All four were stopped with three drivers unfortunately making good their escape. The fourth was apprehended and handed to police at Komatipoort.

A few days prior to this incident, on 28 September, the Macadamia base was informed by a specialist vehicle tracking company of a possible stolen vehicle heading their way.

Base Commander Major Malebo Manganye activated his reaction force with instructions to head for a location near the borderline. Two vehicles – a Ford Ranger valued at R200 000 and a Toyota Hilux valued at R350 000 – were recovered. No-one was apprehended.

A report prepared for SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke in August shows soldiers patrolling South Africa’s land borders under the Operation Corona tasking regularly recover stolen vehicles, in addition to narcotics and contraband.

The total value of confiscations for the first seven months of this year was over R60 million 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.

Soldiers apprehended just under eight thousand undocumented persons or illegal immigrants entering the country in the same period. This was the original sole tasking for Operation Corona and all undocumented people were stopped by patrols in hostile and often dangerous territory, farm from recognised points of entry. These are currently manned by officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and will in future by controlled by 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 SANDF, will remain with the military.

The actions of the infantry soldiers were commended by Shoke. He said in a statement: “The level of combat readiness, discipline and bravery displayed by deployed troops along South Africa’s land borders seeks to ensure South African citizens are and feel safe”.