Delay in military deployment will work in the favour of the cops — defence minister



The minister of defence and military veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said the delay in deploying the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to gang-ridden parts of Cape Town could end up benefiting the police’s Cape Flats stabilisation plan.

Last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa had approved the deployment of military personnel to crime-ravaged parts of Cape Town.

This last weekend saw 43 people killed in the space of 48 hours in some of the city’s poorer suburbs. More than one thousand people have been murdered in the Mother City as of the beginning of the year.

Most of the deaths involved firearms.

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of tabling her department’s budget in Parliament, the minister said the delay in deployment could bring the element of surprise to criminals who have been anticipating the SANDF assisting the police in search and seizure operations.

The minister would not confirm the cause of the delay, but earlier this week a military spokesperson said this was because it was awaiting “paperwork.”

“It’s always better when there’s an element of surprise, like in an operation like this one. It will have to be robust in the beginning, to stabilise. It needs an element of surprise. And hopefully, this delay will give this effect,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Mapisa-Nqakula hit back at criticism of the deployment saying the military was there to only assist police in conducting their duties.

“The SANDF is not trained to control crowds and policing. The moment you call in SANDF for the support it means they can play a role or serve as a deterrent. This kind of criminality points to their serious undermining of the authority of the state. If the state is being challenged we think it appropriates the commander-in-chief [Ramaphosa] deploy the SANDF,” the she said.

The 8th Infantry Battalion has been based in Cape Town since the weekend, where it was undergoing orientation and training at Ysterplaat Airforce base.

It is understood military intelligence is also part of the deployment to the city.

SANDF chief General Solly Shoke would not give details of training operations.

“We train for war. But it’s not the first time we’ve assisted the police. And there’s a specific role we play,” he said.

Earlier, SANDF spokesperson Mafi Mgobozi told the Mail & Guardian that military personnel were familiarising themselves with the situation on the ground.

“We’ve been busy with mission-ready training to make sure they understand the mission…What we are doing is not policing. If the police want to go to a certain area the SANDF will go with them. But the SANDF will not participate in a raid. They are there to provide protection

The defence minister said there’s no time frame for how long the SANDF will be in the Cape.

“All operations are intelligence-driven. Even the withdrawal will be determined by the kind of intelligence. We can’t say we deploy the defence for two days or for two years. It will be determined by the situation on the ground,” she said.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Fashion’s future is bricks and clicks

Lockdown forced reluctant South African clothing retail stores online: although foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores remains important in a mall culture like ours, the secret to success is innovation

Egypt, Seychelles get first jabs

The two countries have rolled out China’s Sinopharm vaccine, but data issues are likely to keep some countries from doing the same

What the Biden presidency may mean for Africa

The new US administration has an interest and much expertise in Africa. But given the scale of the priorities the administration faces, Africa must not expect to feature too prominently

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…