Seven soldiers will be officially commended for their actions in not only turning down bribes but also reporting the attempted bribery which runs into thousands of Rand.
Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Joint Operations said a seven man stick was on patrol in Limpopo as part of ongoing Operation Corona duties when they picked up spoor coming into South Africa.
“The section leader decided to follow and the spoor was tracked for about 20km before a halt was called. Ahead of the patrol was a group of about 60 people carrying the so-called master boxes of cigarettes. The soldiers identified themselves and told the ‘cigarette convoy’ they were going to be arrested and their illegal cigarettes confiscated.
“One of the men, apparently a leader, came to the corporal and offered him a R20,000 bribe to let them continue. The bribe was turned down and the soldiers continued executing their task. All those apprehended and their illegal goods were handed to police,” he said.
This was not the first time this year soldiers doing border protection have been offered a bribe.
Another patrol, also in Limpopo, was offered R400 for each of its seven members if they turned a blind eye to a particular group of cigarette smugglers each time they saw them.
“These soldiers also said no to the bribe and performed their duty apprehending the smugglers and confiscating their goods,” Paxton said.
Cigarettes brought into South Africa illegally from Zimbabwe constitute by far the bulk of the R3.46 million worth of contraband seized by soldiers deployed on Operation Corona last month.
“Other contraband taken included 295 kg of dagga, birth control pills, hair extensions, knock-offs of branded goods such as Nike and Adidas as well as liquor, make-up and clothing,” he said adding the majority of it came in from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Additionally 1,882 undocumented people were apprehended attempting to enter South Africa illegally from Mozambique and Zimbabwe in July.