Defence minister asked to approach Jacob Zuma about deploying army to aid police
If Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has his way, the army will be supporting police in the Western Cape and Gauteng in the next week.
However‚ it is not up to the minister to make that decision. His spokesperson‚ Vuyo Mhaga‚ said they had asked Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s office to approach President Jacob Zuma.
Only the president may deploy the troops.
When asked where exactly the soldiers were needed‚ Mhaga said it would depend on the police to determine the hotspots.
"But as you understand‚ in a democratic country‚ soldiers can’t be deployed permanently [inside the country] but that call becomes an operational call‚" said Mhaga.
He added that personnel on the ground would make an assessment as to when the army was no longer needed.
The last time the army was deployed to assist police in certain areas was in 2015 during Operation Fiela. The operation was in response to violence against foreign nationals.
At the time‚ the army played a supportive role to the police.
Asked if Mbalula’s call was for a similar role‚ Mhaga said a decision would be made by SAPS generals on how to use the army personnel.
"[We would like them deployed] as soon as possible‚ in a couple of weeks if not a week but as soon as we get the go-ahead‚ we will prepare to be on the ground‚" he said.
Mhaga said the call by Mbalula was not an admission of police failure but to augment the current work being done by the SAPS.
When asked if Mbalula’s call was influenced by a similar appeal by Western Cape premier Helen Zille‚ Mhaga said: "Far from it. It would be a banana republic if every opinion that comes‚ we take a decision based on it. Decisions are taken based on the assessments that police make and then they request resources."
Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesperson‚ Joy Peter‚ confirmed that the minister had received Mbalula’s request but said she could not comment.
In Cape Town‚ where gang violence has escalated in recent weeks‚ people had varying views on the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
Joanie Fredericks‚ from Tafelsig‚ said: "We have reached a point of ‘something must give’. This situation is unnatural. Never before have we seen such all-out war on the police‚ the community‚ children‚ gang on gang — something will give. I believe that the army must come in … with a very clear mandate to provide protection for the police and community while the police investigate‚ arrest and confiscate weapons. And [they must] stay for a specific period until they have reached their mandate."
Roegshanda Pascoe‚ in Manenberg‚ said: "I was busy with the TV crew — we were caught in the shootout between gangs this morning. People feel there is no other choice as they are feeling like prisoners now; we have put our recommendations on the table with our engagement with the secretariat of the national office of police regarding the army, in our request for the army."
Achmat Isaacs‚ from Mitchells Plain‚ said: "I am not in favour of getting the army in and would have preferred that the law-enforcement agencies jointly run operations in our communities. The drones that the DA administration boasted about are not put to use.
"However‚ there is a dire need for national intervention and if it means that the army comes in to restore peace in our communities‚ then it must be done under our supervision and on our terms. We are heading towards a total collapse of the security of our communities and it has reached a point where we no longer have the luxury of calling on our people to bring about the change‚ even though we outnumber the gangsters by far. The weapons artillery at their disposal renders us incapable of dealing with the issues ourselves.’’