Soldiers confiscated millions in illicit cigarettes, booze and dagga in July

Soldiers have made significant strides in ensuring law and order since the start of the lockdown in March.
Image: Gallo Images/Dino Lloyd

Soldiers have confiscated R10m worth of illegal cigarettes, alcohol worth R180,000, counterfeit clothing worth R579,000 and other contraband worth R4.8m — and all this just during July.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said this more than R15.5m haul made significant strides in ensuring law and order since the start of the lockdown in March.

“The confiscated goods are in total defiance of lockdown restrictions and deprive the country’s revenue services, needed for government programmes,” said SANDF spokesperson Lt Col Connie Silwer.

The military was deployed to assist police and other law enforcement agencies to stop the illegal entry of undocumented people, seize contraband items and illicit cigarettes, stop smuggling of stolen vehicles and numerous other lockdown-related transgressions, said Silwer.

Soldiers deployed on the country’s borders recovered cattle and sheep which were returned to rightful owners.

On the borders of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, dagga weighing more than 1,645kg and with a value of about R3.5m was confiscated.

Silwer said other narcotics with a street value of R2.4m were seized and handed to customs officials and police.

“Linked to these narcotics and contraband, 38 people have been apprehended. At least 12 vehicles were recovered and handed to SAPS,” she said.

The military said it had also supported initiatives to address water shortages in various areas, and these initiatives were set to go beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

“More than 3.8 million litres of water have been purified by army engineers in co-operation with the water and sanitation department, and have been distributed to distressed communities across the country,” said Silwer.

The SANDF said its members had helped the national health department with the provision of health-care workers in areas where shortages existed.

“About 99,440 people were screened and 4,926 were referred for testing.

More than 10,585 soldiers f are deployed in support of other state departments to bolster government’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

BY NONKULULEKO NJILO

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