SANDF resumes border patrols

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pretoria - Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Thursday visited the borders of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland as soldiers resumed their patrol posts there.

The minister together with members of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans inspected facilities and interacted with soldiers to understand the challenges the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are faced with as they return to the borders.

The soldiers take over patrol as part of the new South African National Border Management Agency, approved by Cabinet.

Sisulu said she was confident that the SANDF would bring a new dawn to border management and security.

"We return to the borders as more advanced SANDF than when we left in 1998, I am very impressed by the ground work already done to take over the full patrol from SAPS and the progress and presence we have already made along the border.

"We are engaging the defence industry on some of the best technology to monitor illegal activities and also keep an eye on our fence 24 hours. Together with other law enforcement agencies the SANDF will ensure that their constitutional mandate to secure the borders is done with pride and excellence," she said.

She said the SANDF is returning to the border in phases due to a shortage of funds and in line with Government budgeting processes, funds will start being made available in the next financial year.

"This is a major programme, the infrastructure is not the best it can be, the fence is not in a good state, we have over 2000m long, land border we have to look after and that requires both financial, technology and human resources, but we are up for the task and I am confident that many South Africans are happy that their troops are back on the border," she said.

The SANDF will also meet with the chiefs of the defence forces of neighbouring countries to re-establish coordinating structures and to urge them to deploy soldiers on their side of the fence.

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Nyami Booi, said the SANDF is capable of delivering on the task but they need the necessary resources.

"We would have preferred that the SANDF takes over full border patrol as soon as possible, but we understand that this phased approach is necessitated by lack of funds and we will do what we can to assist the SANDF to perform this function, we are happy that the return to the border has started," he said

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