THERE was drama at a roadblock in Mpumalanga when an overloaded truck, mostly with illegal immigrants from Mozambique, drove straight into the hands of National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
The minister and the commissioner were visiting Mpumalanga to launch "Operation Duty Calls" on Friday.
The festive season crime-fighting campaign includes encouraging the border police to be more vigilant in their daily duties.
Cele and Mthethwa, new Provincial Police Commissioner Thulani Ntobela, Deputy National Police Commissioner Magna Stander and Nkomazi executive mayor Johan Mavuso first gathered at Komatipoort's Nkomazi municipality's satellite offices for a briefing.
The entourage then proceeded to the Macadamia border police camp and stumbled on a roadblock a few kilometres away. They stopped and immediately joined in the operation.
Cele physically stopped vehicles, including minibus taxis, and searched them for drugs as well as weapons.
But drama really began when an overloaded truck arrived.
Cele and Mthethwa looked shocked when more than 200 people, crammed in like sardines in a can, alighted from the truck.
Cele spoke to the truck driver, Moses Ngwenya, who was jittery but explained that his boss, a farm owner, had instructed him to transport the people who were coming from work.
"We suspected that these people were going home to Mozambique and had dodged the other roadblock near the Lebombo border," Mpumalanga police spokesperson Superintendent Sibongile Nkosi said.
The truck passengers were made to queue on the roadside while their documents were being checked.
Job Jackson, the provincial head of immigration, told Cele and Mthethwa that only a few of the people had legal travel documents and work permits.
The entourage then proceeded to the Macadamia border police camp where Mthethwa and Cele addressed about 200 members of the police and encouraged them to be more vigilant.
"The criminals know that we are in every town and think we can't be on our borders since they are in the bush. Let us show them we are everywhere," Mthethwa urged the police before handing them travelling bags as Christmas gifts.
Cele and Mthethwa later addressed members of the community at the Maqhekeza Stadium and asked them to help the police with their daily duties.
Cele later impounded two minibus taxis that were not roadworthy on the KaNyamazane-KaBokweni road. One driver jumped off the taxi and ran away.