Op Corona nets contraband and dagga worth just on R7 million in two months
South African soldiers confiscated dagga worth more than R5 million during border protection patrols in June and July and seized contraband valued at more than R1.7 million during the same period. Seizures of the narcotic drug, the legality of which is being tested in the North Gauteng High Court by the so-called “dagga couple” Julian Stubbs and Myrtle Clarke, are an ongoing part of border protection under the Operation Corona tasking. The most popular smuggling route for dagga during this period was into Free State from Lesotho with more than 1 000 kg taken before it could be sold on South African streets. A short distance behind – in weight terms - was KwaZulu-Natal where soldiers confiscated over 900 kg from smugglers entering South Africa from Swaziland and Mozambique. Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen of SANDF Joint Operations Division said regular patrols were mounted by both Reserve Force and full-time units of the SA Army along all the country’s land borders. This saw illegal immigrants from Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and for the first time since a company was deployed on the Namibian border, five people from South Africa’s western neighbour apprehended by soldiers and handed to Department of Home Affairs officials for further processing.
The largest number of illegal immigrants came from Mozambique and Zimbabwe with soldiers deployed in Limpopo and Mpumalanga recording more than 1 200 apprehensions. The highest number of illegals recorded for any one South African province was in Eastern Cape where soldiers stopped 1 447 people from illegally entering the country. All told for the two months, soldiers prevented 2 940 people from illegally entering South Africa. Soldiers on patrol also “nabbed” 99 people wanted by South African police for various crimes as they attempted to escape justice. Twenty-three weapons, ranging from rifles through to pistols and 11 handmade guns were taken from people without the necessary permits and licences. Soldiers also recovered 15 stolen vehicles and assorted small livestock, mostly goats and sheep, as well as more than a hundred head of cattle rustled across the Lesotho/South Africa border.