The civilian charged with overall management of South Africa’s military would do well to remember the country is not at war and that “South Africans are not the enemy”.
This warning for Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula comes from Kobus Marais, the Democratic Alliance (DA) MP who oversees the defence and military veterans portfolio. It follows the death of a Mpumalanga man at the weekend, allegedly shot by a soldier deployed in support of police attempting to prevent “mob justice” being administered in the volatile Bushbuckridge area, west of the Kruger National Park.
He sees “immediate suspension” of the soldier allegedly involved in the fatal shooting as absolutely necessary until a comprehensive investigation is completed.
On the now reduced deployment of soldiers to assist police in enforcing lockdown regulations put in place by the national state of disaster, Marais maintains it’s “a symptom of a bigger problem”.
He sees it as “the rapid deployment of troops in the streets without proper, necessary and sufficient training to support them in enforcing lockdown regulations”.
“The enemy is COVID-19 and the abuse committed by soldiers on civilians during lockdown is deplorable. The DA calls for the removal of the military from our streets.
“Their deployment has led to the abuse of power and unnecessary use of tough measures against the people they were deployed to protect,” he said, pointing out South Africa is singled out by the UN as a country where abuse by law enforcers in response to COVID-19 is “toxic”.
“This paints a grim picture,” he added.
As far as can be ascertained, the Acornhoek shooting is only being investigated by police.