KAMAQHEKEZA – Last Friday, soldiers were lauded for their successes during a ceremony at the Macadamia Military Base to celebrate the end of 4 SAI Battalion’s deployment to safeguard the 780-kilometre border between South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland.
Col Martin Gopane, the battalion’s commander, shared the troops’ achievements. They confiscated contraband, illegal goods and stolen vehicles worth R32 359 828, improving on their predecessors’ successes by around
R500 000. This excluded the successes with non-monetary value.
They worked relentlessly with stakeholders within the safety and security cluster, environmental affairs, local communities and businesses to combat cross-border and wildlife crime.
Despite the danger and challenges they faced, they also managed to help keep poaching in check in a joint effort with SANParks, SAPS and other role players.
The number of rhino carcasses found in the Kruger National Park decreased by 26 from last year’s 1 054, and arrests increased, according to an announcement by minister Edna Molewa.
To help step up border security, the Macadamia Base is set to receive vehicles that will be able to traverse the rugged border terrain. Troops are currently patrolling on foot, which makes it difficult to cover the whole area. With their increased mobility, they hope to increase the range of patrol and enable them to catch offenders at the border.
The ceremony was concluded with awards where Maj Dumisani Mlombo was named the best overall performer. Mlombo attributed it to the support he received from his colleagues, the community and various other role players.
“The surrounding community showed how concerned they are about crime on the borders. Despite challenges like not being informed in time and the fact that our relationship with livestock owners was not solid enough, there is great improvement. I believe the bar will be raised higher every month,” Mlombo said.