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 Sisulu: SANDF in major programme

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PosOnderwerp: Sisulu: SANDF in major programme   Wed May 19, 2010 8:11 pm

2010-04-29 21:01


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Komatipoort - The redeployment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) along the country's borders will be a "major programme", Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.

"...The infrastructure is not the best it can be. The fence is not in a good state. We have an over 2 000 metre-long land border we have to look after and that requires both financial, technology and human resources," she said at Komatipoort, near the border with Mozambique.

Sisulu was addressing the SANDF heads, Parliament's defence committee and the media during a visit to border "hot spots".

This was ahead of the redeployment of soldiers on the border who are replacing the police.

The government has yet to provide additional funds for the SANDF to patrol the border. It is expected that the visit will be used to gather information on the funding required.

"We do not have the budget to do what needs to be done. The budget follows the mandate," said Sisulu.

"We are doing everything we can do within the limited budget to fulfil the mandate."

New budget only next year

Sisulu said the new budget would not come into effect until next year.

The border fence and other infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and the police still occupy the observation posts and military bases needed by the soldiers now posted on the border.

Members of the visiting parliamentary delegation have, across party lines, endorsed the redeployment of the military and criticised the police.

"Looking at the fence line, the physical infrastructure, I’m left with one question: What have the police been doing in the last three years?" asked Democratic Alliance (DA) MP David Maynier.

Maynier and the other parliamentarians were shown on Wednesday that the border fence with Zimbabwe is riddled with holes, some only a few metres apart.

A local SANDF officer said it took only 15 seconds for illegal immigrants to cut through the fence and cross over into South Africa.

Stolen cars smuggled into Moz

On the Mozambican border, the damage to the fence was less obvious, but just as serious.

Crime syndicates, which smuggled out stolen cars, had cut large holes in the fencing which were repaired to form makeshift gates.

Several hundred metres of the outer fencing on the Mozambican border had simply been stolen.

The fences on both the Zimbabwean and Mozambican borders are meant to be electrified, but have not been for several months.

"The defence force is essentially picking up the broken pieces from the Saps," said Maynier.

Saps still needed

ANC MP and chairperson of the defence committee, Mnyamezeli Booi found the condition on the borders and the deterioration of the infrastructure "shocking".

However, he and Maynier acknowledged that the military would need the help of the police.

Chief of the SANDF General Godfrey Ngwenya told the parliamentary delegation that the military would not have the authority to make arrests and that the police would continue to have a presence on the border.

Police assistance would be particularly needed in criminal investigations of smuggling and human trafficking. Parliament recently promulgated the first legislation directly targeting human trafficking.

Colonel Patrick Ncba Bobelo said local communities were often a factor in illegal activity on the border.
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