Pretoria — Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe says South Africa will continue to improve security at the country's borders with neighbouring countries in a bid to combat cross-border crime.
"To date, a total of 11 companies of the South African National Defence Force has been deployed along South African borders with neighbouring countries since the first deployment in April 2010," Radebe said at the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster briefing on Monday.
The minister, who is also the chairperson of the cluster, said SANDF presence along the country's borders would continue to be phased in over time.
"There are 11 companies deployed on the Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho borders. The deployment has taken place along the northern borders, and in the Free State province," he said.
Government in November 2009 mandated the SANDF to return to the borders, fulfilling the constitutional mandate of the defence force to safeguard the territorial integrity of South Africa.
In April 2010, the SANDF started borderline deployment. The defence force was deployed in the north of the country along the KwaZulu-Natal/Mozambique, Mozambique/Mpumalanga and Limpopo/Zimbabwe borders in a phased-in approach, which will be completed in 2015 covering the land borders of South Africa.
"Effective border management is part of the government crime prevention strategy, which deals with cross-border crimes and poaching. The SANDF deployment of forces continues in a phased-in approach, working with other government role players," explained Radebe.
The role players include the South African Police Services (SAPS), SARS as well as Departments of Home Affairs, Tourism, Public Works, Transport, Health, State Security and Agriculture.
A further four companies will be rolled out to the country's borders in the 2013/14 financial year.
"We will roll out a further four companies in the financial year 2013/14 to the North West (Botswana Border) and Northern Cape (Namibia Border) provinces respectively during Phase 4. This will bring the total number of companies deployed on the RSA border to 15," he said.
As part of the SANDF's deployment, operations are being conducted to combat cross-border crime, stock theft and illegal grazing and rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.
The deployment of the defence force has led to the confiscation of contraband to the value of R3 105 959, 70 since the beginning of April 2012, including cigarettes and liquor.
"Additionally, 763.11kg narcotics (dagga) were confiscated; 315 kg precious metal (copper); 23 stolen vehicles and nine weapons were also recovered. A total of 5 210 undocumented persons were apprehended and 212 criminals arrested," said Radebe.