New border security measures prove very effective

Tracker's Ron Knott-Craig addresses officials at the border.

NGWENYENI – The Border Security Project, aimed at preventing border-related crimes like stopping vehicles from illegally crossing the border between South Africa and Mozambique, has proven to be effective over the past three weeks.

Deep trenches were dug and sleepers placed along the border.

In the first two weeks, no cases of stolen vehicles were reported to the local police. Two stolen vehicles were recovered last Friday as they were being driven through the border near Macadamia.

READ: Community and soldiers discuss border challenges with minister

The Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison (DCSSL) officially launched the project with a site visit from the MEC, Mr Pat Ngomane, last Friday.

Officials of Nkomazi Local Municipality, members of the SAPS and SANDF, the local community policing forum and representatives of Tracker, attended the event at Ngwenyeni Sports Field near KaMaqhekeza. The Department of Public Works is supporting this project.

Lt Col Elaine van Staden of SANDF talks to the MEC, Pat Ngomane about the soldiers’ challenges.

It was initiated after the former minister of police, Mr Nathi Nhleko, Ngomane and Mpumalanga commissioner, Lt Gen Mondli Zuma visited the adjacent communities.

The public was concerned about stock theft, and stolen vehicles which were smuggled into Mozambique.

In the past financial year 142 stolen vehicles were recovered. The party travelled to one of the locations along the border where these preventative measures had been implemented.

Lt Col Elaine van Staden of the SANDF told the MEC that it worked with Tracker and had established an early warning system. The roads are also being improved, as poor road conditions made pursuing criminals challenging.

READ: Smugglers caught with R1m’s counterfeit shoes

Ngomane was impressed with the initiative and its progress, and said they hoped to implement extra security measures for the entire length of the border. “If there is no passage, crime will decrease. A good working relationship between SA, Swaziland and Mozambique concerning border crime is also necessary and will go a long way to combat crime.”

Van Staden thanked the DCSSL for the positive impact the project has had on soldiers’ morale.

“It’s very demoralising if you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. With more support and resources, soldiers feel motivated to continue the fight.”

Ron Knott-Craig from Tracker stated that the community needed to be involved to successfully fight border crime. He offered to train CPF members to combat border crime by teaching them how to identify stolen or hijacked vehicles.

“I always believe that prevention is better than cure. As much as we want to make our border safe, let us teach communities about crime prevention. We need to stop crime before it happens,” Ngomane said.

Retha Nel

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