We need a concrete plan for the deployment of SANDF back to the borders - now
The South African Police Service (SAPS) appears to have given up protecting the borders of South Africa.
That is why we need a concrete plan to deploy the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to protect the borders - now.
On our visit to the South Africa/Zimbabwe border in the Beit Bridge area we found that [see pictures below]:-
- on the borderline fence several gates had been left open;
- the borderline fence had been cut wide open in several places;
- large sections of the borderline fence had been stolen; and
- the borderline fence had been flattened in many places.
The state of the borderline fence was shocking.
On our tour we also found a low police presence - the SAPS do not do foot patrols and were deployed at 10 kilometre intervals at sub-stations along the South Africa/Zimbabwe border.
The poor state of borderline security made it possible for organised crime syndicates to smuggle cigarettes and livestock. Poachers also came over the border causing a major problem for farmers in the area. With livestock easily moving over the border, there was a continuous threat of foot-and-mouth disease breaking out in the area near the South Africa/Zimbabwe border.
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, has "agreed in principle" that the SANDF should be deployed back to the borders of South Africa. The Deputy-Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, announced yesterday that the borders may "soon be guarded by soldiers again".
We appear to be moving in the right direction. But what we need is a concrete plan rather than vague promises. We need to know how many soldiers will be deployed on the border. And we need to know when they will be deployed on the border.
The DA therefore calls on the Defence and Military Veterans Minister to urgently roll out a strategic plan, the budget and timeline for the deployment of the SANDF to protect the borders of South Africa.
David Maynier and James Lorimer at the South African Zimbabwe border
Joint statement issued by David Maynier, MP and James Lorimer, MP, Democratic Alliance, shadow and deputy shadow ministers of defence and military veterans July 24 2009
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