In a decisive move to bolster border security, the South African government has initiated the construction of a formidable concrete barrier along its border with Mozambique. This strategic development comes as a response to the escalating incidents of vehicle theft and smuggling, which have long plagued the region.

The project, estimated at approximately $2.7 million, is structured into three phases. The first phase encompasses an 8-kilometer stretch adjacent to Tembe Elephant Park. It will be succeeded by the second phase, which extends another 8 kilometers near the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and the third phase, spanning 9 kilometers from the western boundary of Tembe Elephant Park to the Pongolo River.

The barrier’s efficacy in crime prevention was recently highlighted when perpetrators failed to surmount it with a stolen SUV, using iron ladders. The ladders collapsed under the vehicle’s weight, leading the criminals to set it ablaze in a bid to obliterate evidence.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) plays a pivotal role in this initiative, with 15 companies of troops deployed to safeguard the nation’s borders, especially the high-risk frontiers adjoining Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho.

Construction activities at the Tembe Elephant Park section are in full swing, as reported in a joint briefing by the South African government and KwaZulu-Natal province. The project has garnered positive feedback from local communities and the SANDF alike.

After considerable delays, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has recommenced the erection of the concrete barrier wall. In late 2020, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Roads and Transport, in collaboration with the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, allocated R50 million for the production and installation of concrete barrier units along the border.

An update presented to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on March 6 revealed significant progress, with over 5 kilometers of the border wall already completed in the uMkhanyakude District Municipality in northern KZN.

The new jersey barriers are strategically placed at locations identified by SANDF soldiers as high-traffic areas for vehicle thieves. This measure is expected to significantly impede the illicit cross-border movement and contribute to the region’s overall security and stability.

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