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SA's new border war: troops battle flood of contraband and illegal immigrants

Soldiers on border patrol have seized dagga worth at least R31 million this year‚ the South African National Defence Force said on Tuesday.

Other seizures by the 15 companies of troops deployed on the border included:

- Contraband — mostly cigarettes‚ liquor‚ clothing and footwear — worth R46 million;

- 3 177 livestock‚ mostly cattle and sheep;

- 60 weapons‚ mostly hunting rifles and handguns but including an AK-47; and

- Vehicles worth R155 million‚ mostly high-end SUVs.

“Among the thousands of people stopped by soldiers during regular patrols‚ 15 467 were found to be (undocumented)‚” said SANDF spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Piet Paxton.

“They were all handed over to South African Police Service Police and Department of Home Affairs officials for further processing.”

Paxton said South Africa’s 4 471km land border and 2 798km of coastline “poses a huge challenge on current force levels”.

The troops conducted round-the-clock patrols using horses‚ motorcycles‚ dogs and helicopters.

Most clothing and footwear was confiscated from people entering from Mozambique‚ while the Zimbabwe border was the main entry point for illegal cigarettes. Both countries were also the source of almost all the undocumented people trying to enter South Africa.

“The Free State/Lesotho and Eastern Cape/Lesotho borders were where the majority of livestock rustlers were apprehended and these borders are also the chosen entry point of dagga smugglers‚” said Paxton.


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