SA troops back on border patrol
Bloemfontein - The first four SA National Defence Force (SANDF) companies to take over border security from the SA Police Service (Saps) on the northern borders, held a farewell parade in Bloemfontein on Monday.
SANDF chief Lieutenant General Solly Shoke said the troop deployment would work closely with other law enforcement agencies along South Africa's borders, as they had done in the past.
The group of soldiers is part of the first phase of the South African Border Management Agency (BMA) approved by Cabinet in October 2009.
The four companies, of about 130 soldiers each, would be deployed on South Africa's north-eastern borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The soldiers would conduct foot and mobile patrols, monitor the border fence and supply reaction capabilities.
Shoke said advance teams of SANDF engineers were already deployed to the areas, including bases at Musina and Pontdrif, to prepare the facilities for the troops.
Addressing the parade at the De Brug Mobilisation Centre outside Bloemfontein, Shoke said the troops were placed back on the borders to help the police curb criminal cross-border activities.
"Like those who serve outside your borders... your discipline should be impeccable because criminals would look at ways to bribe you."
A relief group of South African soldiers currently deployed in Sudan on a joint UN/AU peacekeeping mission joined the parade.
The SANDF was sending some 800 fresh troops to Sudan as part of Operation Cordite, an UN/AU mission, which forms part of the peacekeeping operations in Darfur.
Shoke said the South African soldiers returning from Sudan had enjoyed a good relationship with the people of Darfur and the other nations involved in the peacekeeping efforts.
"They have a good rapport."
The new group going to Sudan would stay for the next six months. The troops deployed on the South African borders would rotate every six months.
Previously, SANDF troops were withdrawn from the border in terms of a 2003 presidential announcement.