South Africa

CIVIC UNREST

Leaked document on troop deployment in SA was ‘internal notice for planning’ — SANDF general

Leaked document on troop deployment in SA was ‘internal notice for planning’ — SANDF general
An SANDF troop deployment during a law-enforcement operation in Durban on 13 January 2022 to clamp down on errant truck drivers and to ensure maximum compliance in the freight industry. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The SA National Defence Force said a leaked document about putting troops on standby for service on South African streets was an internal notice for planning and coordinating purposes within the military.

​​The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has clarified its reported intention to deploy soldiers to certain streets in South Africa amid security concerns “that require an urgent and more robust intervention to calm the situation and protect [citizens]”.

In a statement issued on Monday night, Brigadier-General Andries Mokoena Mahapa said the ultimate decision on whether soldiers were deployed lay with President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had the executive authority to deploy SANDF personnel in support of other stakeholders to curb instability. 

This comes after it was reported by TimesLIVE that Major-General Patrick Dube issued an order at the weekend for 200 soldiers to be on standby. 

The leaked order, dated 6 August, stated that soldiers might be called “to play their secondary role… to support or cooperate with the South African Police Service (SAPS)”.

“The situation in the Republic of South Africa is gradually deteriorating into unrest due to criminality that is taking place within the borders. This is also exacerbated by a perceived lack of action from the security forces to combat criminality,” read the order.

sandf troop deployment alexandra

South African National Defence Force soldiers patrol the streets on 15 July 2021 in Alexandra Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The article stated that the deployment could only take place “once it is ordered by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has to inform parliament first”.

The leaked order did not specify where the soldiers would be positioned. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Cash/Guns/Ammo/Comms: SA on the verge of another insurrection, security experts warn

“Chief of the SANDF would like to reiterate that should the deployment of the SANDF be authorised according to Section 201(2) of the Constitution, it will be for preservation of life, health and property and not against the people of South Africa,” Mahapa said in the statement on Monday. 

Mahapa said the leaked document was never intended for public consumption, as it was an internal document for planning and coordinating purposes within the SANDF. 

An SANDF official, who asked not to be named, said the deployment of soldiers had not been confirmed, but that the order issued by Dube was necessitated by several meetings held amid increasing incidents of violence.


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“It was just a warning order given events we’ve seen play out recently… it is entirely the President’s decision, but on our end, we didn’t want to get caught with our pants down,” he said.

The intention to deploy troops has been met with criticism from some quarters, with the DA’s spokesperson on defence and military veterans, Kobus Marais, suggesting this was yet another failure by police to maintain law and order.

“It is predominantly a police responsibility. To always jump on the bandwagon — with the greatest of respect to everybody — as if it’s the last resource, is to a certain extent very unfair, because there are no extra resources and we all know the state of the SANDF and its budget constraints,” he said.

Marais said that, at present, no situation warranted a deployment of soldiers — not even the unrest which had broken out in Krugersdorp where illegal miners, or zama zamas, have been arrested. This followed the horrific gang rape of eight women at a disused mine dump in West Village, Krugersdorp, on 28 July.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Large police contingent strikes again as raids continue in Krugersdorp after horrific gang rape

Even if the 200 soldiers are deployed, they will not make much of a difference as the figure also includes support and logistical staff. “You need a whole lot more people to contain violence and ensure the safety of people in South Africa,” said Marais.

Before ordering such a deployment, President Ramaphosa is obliged to inform Parliament.

Ramaphosa has in the past authorised the use of troops. In July 2019, he deployed 1,320 SANDF members to the Cape Flats to combat crime and maintain order. The operation cost R23.3-million, reported TimesLIVE.

In July 2021, he authorised the deployment of 25,000 soldiers to help quell the unrest that gripped parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The riots claimed the lives of more than 350 people and saw critical infrastructure damaged. The troop deployment cost an estimated R615-million.

In April this year, Ramaphosa authorised, for another year, the deployment of 200 soldiers to counter the threat of piracy and other illegal activities in the Indian Ocean, News24 reported. The deployment was extended from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 at an estimated cost of R154-million. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Michael Clark says:

    Hope the Cubans we paid R2,2 billion to repair our trucks will be finished. Last time our mighty SANDF took 4 days to get to KwaZulu Natal because they had to catch the bus.

  • Chris 123 says:

    Gone are the days when people would fear the SANDF now it just a joke. Let’s hope Zimbabwe don’t invade.

    • Carsten Rasch says:

      As a civilian, you should definitely fear them. The experience I’ve had with them is that they are full of bravado gun in hand, lax & badly trained, with no respect for civvies.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    I definitely do not want to see this badly trained & hostile (to civilians) rabble on the streets. People who are trained to kill has no place on our streets, no matter how desperate we are. The Are several other options open to Ramaphosa before he orders the troops out, number one to get rid of the hip-shooting behatted buffoon, Cele.

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