The government plans to deploy 25 000 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in a bid to restore peace to the area. Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the number of deployed soldiers was the ‘middle way’ between the 10 000 soldiers President Cyril Ramaphosa wanted on the ground and the 75 000 that opposition parties were calling for.
25 000 SANDF MEMBERS TO BE DEPLOYED
Mapisa-Nqakula said that the proposal to increase the number of soldiers deployed in KZN and Gauteng from 5000 to 25 000 would be submitted for approval when briefing Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence on Wednesday afternoon, 14 July.
The minister said Ramaphosa – who met with opposition party leaders earlier on Wednesday – initially proposed that the number of soldiers deployed to quell the violence and unrest in the two provinces should be increased to 10 000 SANDF members while opposition parties wanted the number to be increased to 75 000.
“We agreed that okay, we don’t have to say 75 000 but we should also not keep at the 10 000 which the President had proposed, that we should rather find a middle way,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
“Because you also don’t want to mobilise for the sake of mobilising because our mobilisation must also be informed by the continuous assessment of the situation on the ground,” added the minister.
The minister said the situation in KwaZulu-Natal was very bad and added that about 1000 soldiers were currently stationed in the province – with priority given to national key points and not shopping malls, which continued to be looted after the SANDF deployment.
“It was like guard duties in areas like Port Shepstone where you have oil refineries and at the airports,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
“Our soldiers were not at the malls. Our agreement was that we do guard duty, so that we can release the police to enforce the law and deal with people who were carrying out acts of criminality. That’s the only reason we were not at the malls.”