Battalion raises the bar for border operations

Lt Col Elaine van Staden inspects the Farewell Parade of the First City Ops Battalion

NAAS – Members of First City Ops Battalion were highly praised at their farewell parade and awards ceremony at Naas Community Stadium on Tuesday.

Lt Col Elaine van Staden, acting commanding officer of J Tac Mpumalanga, said the battalion and support services had a borderline of almost 800 kilometres to protect.

 

“On your arrival in September 2016, I set the challenge to you to improve on the successes of your predecessors. Their successes in terms of monetary factors such as confiscating contraband and smuggled goods amounted to R9,1 million in six months. Your battalion raised the bar and your achievements add up to more than R18 million,” Van Staden said.

From January 1 to February 17 the batallion border safeguarding successes included 1 600 undocumented persons apprehended, 2 273 kilograms of dagga seized, three stolen vehicles recovered, and more than R1,6 million in contraband as well as five weapons impounded.

The latest drug bust by the team was in the Emahletini area, when 162 kilograms of dagga, worth R483 000 was confiscated.

SARS recently announced that for 2016, more than R84 million’s worth of drugs were seized at Lebombo Border Post, with heroin being the most-smuggled drug (R63 million).

Lt Col Roger Keeton

Van Staden referred to the battalion’s relentless and untiring work with partners in safety and security to combat cross-border crime and wildlife activities, as well as reaching out to security partners in Mozambique.

An example of this is the fact that the area where the battalion is operational in putting an end to wildlife crime, the Kruger National Park (KNP), there was a decline in rhino-poaching figures of almost 20 per cent in 2016 and an increase in arrests made.

In the KNP a total of 662 rhino carcasses was found in 2016 compared to 826 in 2015. This represents a reduction of 19,85 per cent last year.

During 2016, the SAPS reported that 680 poachers and traffickers were apprehended for rhino-related poaching offences nationally. This is a marked increase in arrests from 317 in 2015. Of this number, 417 were nabbed both within and outside the Kruger.

“This is testimony to the battalion’s hard work and dedication as well as joining hands with partners in anti-poaching. As a team they are committed to fighting wildlife crime. We had a high-level SANDF delegation here a few days ago and they recognised the hard work during Operation Corona. This will be rewarded. It will be one of the units to receive the soon-to-be-rolled-out mobility packages,” said Van Staden.

Joint operational headquarters is in the planning phase for the biannual rotation of Op Corona forces which takes place in April.

  AUTHOR
Elize Parker
Environmental Journalist Lowvelder

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