It would be churlish to dismiss the government’s plan to deploy 3,300 soldiers to help police clamp down on rampant crime. But more clarity is required on the strategy behind this extraordinary step by the president.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the National Council of Provinces that he had authorised the deployment of soldiers — with effect from this month — to support police during various crime-fighting operations including illegal mining. Operation Prosper, the campaign’s code name, will cost nearly R500m and will remain in force until April...

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