The Department of Defence (DoD) is “reprioritising” its budget to pay for Operation Lockdown, the Western Cape anti-crime tasking.
Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais maintains actual spend by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on this operation in support of the SA Police Service (SAPS) attempt to curtail violent and gang crime on the Cape flats, is “way out”.
This after he was told by Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula over R35 million was spent on the deployment between July and September this year. “This is against the projected R23 million,” she said in a written response to his question.
“This, to me shows, the initial budget and costings for the deployment was way out of line. Which leads me to question how competent is national defence force management when it comes to properly managing a budget process and subsequently, controlling costs,” he said.
“No additional funds were appropriated and it has now become a situation of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ by ‘reprioritising’ the already stretched defence budget.”
The deployment length has been extended by six months to end in March next year.
Soldiers from Cape Town-based 9 SA Infantry Battalion were deployed in July to assist police in areas of the Cape Flats plagued by gang violence. These include Delft, Mitchell’s Plain, Philippi, Manenberg, Elsies River, Bishop Lavis, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Kraaifontein.
While no Indication of any rotational unit replacement has been forthcoming from the SANDF or the SA Army, it appears the Cape Town unit will stay in place until at least year-end. 8 SAI is reportedly deployment ready and, if a decision is taken to rotate the Cape Flats unit, the Upington, Northern Cape, infantry battalion appears the most likely replacement.