- Drones will be deployed along portions of the Beitbridge Border post to curb illegal entry into SA
- Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says that this will be in addition to regular patrols
- This comes after the border was subject to controversy after a project to strengthen fences failed
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Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has announced that drones will be deployed along parts of the Beitbridge Border. This will be an effort to curb illegal entry into South Africa from Zimbabwe and will be done in addition to the usual patrols by soldiers.
Mapisa-Nqakula was answering questions from members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts over the heavily-criticised fence along the same border.
The minister acknowledged that the project to strengthen the border had been marred by failure:
“One of the decisions chair, is we begin to use drones chairperson, to rely more on technology. Yes, we have our warm bodies on the borderline, but also rely on sensors. The fence has not helped, the movement of people continues and people have vandalised the fence, people have stolen the fence."
The minister made it clear that the fence and even patrols had done little to discourage movement across the border and into SA.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that as part of the government's response to Covid-19, emphasis was placed on reinforcing the nation's borders. This saw a R37 million project to reinforce the SA-Zimbabwe border at Beitbridge with a new fence, but the endeavour was soon marred by controversy.
Images of a pitiful wire fence emerged online, prompting an investigation into the project, which cost just under R1 million per kilometre of fencing. Three different Parliamentary Portfolio Committees have since conducted in-loco inspections and determined that the fence is not fit for its intended purpose.
The committees have labelled the fence wasteful expenditure, noting that substandard materials had been utilised. Another embarrassing observation was that the secondary fence, built nearly four decades ago, is in better condition.
The Special Investigations Unit has been asked to probe the matter and to begin the process to recover the funds spent on the project. Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille, who gave the order to appoint a service provider, has committed to subjecting herself to Parliament to take account for the tender.
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