Rorisang Kgosana
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
16 Nov 2018
6:20 am

We need more money to curb poaching – SANDF

Rorisang Kgosana

Soldiers are trying their best and their efforts have reaped rewards, but billions of rand is needed for the effectively patrolling of 4,000km of land borders.

An SANDF soldier is seen looking at the carcass of one of the three poached rhinos that were found near the South African - Mozambican border near their base camp Charlie One, 14 November 2018, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Despite the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) being in dire need of billions of rands to up their border control, soldiers say they are trying their best to curb drug smuggling and rhino poaching.

Since soldiers started patrolling 4 000km of land borders, at least 400 people have been arrested for wildlife crimes such as elephant and rhino poaching on the Mpumalanga/Mozambique border this year.

An SANDF soldier is seen on a mountain where the border crossing into Mozambique is visible, 14 November 2018, Kruger National park, Mpumalanga. Picture: Jacques Nelles

From January, 344 rhinos and 65 elephants were killed, but 156 weapons were seized.

An additional three hornless rhino carcasses were discovered at the Kruger National Park this week.

Only 15 SANDF companies cover the lengthy borders.

SANDF soldiers are seen looking at the carcass of one of the three poached rhinos that were found near the South African & Mozambican border near their base camp Charlie One, 14 November 2018, Kruger National park, Mpumalanga. Picture: Jacques Nelles

They are deployed to combat wildlife crimes, apprehend undocumented persons, recover stolen vehicles and seize contraband.

Last month, Chief of the SA Army Lieutenant – General Lindile Yam said the defence force required an additional R50 billion to properly defend and protect the country’s borders.

According to SANDF spokesperson Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi, lack of budget was hampering protection efforts.

SANDF soldiers are seen on a mountain where the border crossing into Mozambique is visible, 14 November 2018. From this vantage point soldiers can clearly see illegal crossings taking place and can react quickly, Kruger National park, Mpumalanga. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mgobozi explained this week that once the SANDF returned to patrolling the borders in 2009 after the task was taken from them and handed to the South African Police Service in 2003, it was only the responsibility that was transferred, but not the budget.

“We have to cover more than 4 000km of land borders, meaning we need to deploy more people.

“When the defence force was taken over by SA Police Service [Saps], the budget of the border operations was given to Saps. But when they gave us back the task of working the borders, it didn’t come with the money.

“We were not able to keep up with patrolling the borders as before,” said Mgobozi.

“We have 15 companies deployed. Parliament had said we should deploy 22 companies but it is difficult because of lack of budget.”

rorisangk@citizen.co.za

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