Minister says soldiers on Cape Flats having success


National Council of Provinces (NCOP) members heard from the Defence and Military Veterans Minister that the deployment of soldiers to the Cape Flats was a success.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is reported by The Citizen as telling Parliament’s lower house that the deployment was a success but only a “temporary measure” and that “challenges in Western Cape have more to do with the underlying socio-economic causes of gangsterism”.

She was responding to NCOP members’ questions.

Democratic Alliance (DA) NCOP member Cathlene Labuschagne asked if the deployment of soldiers from 9 SA Infantry Battalion was yielding any success and, if not, could the Minister provide details.

Labuschagne told defenceWeb she was not happy with Mapisa-Nqakula’s answers and would be following up.

“Written questions will be submitted to Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and I have also urgently asked for the relevant Hansard to be made available,” she said, adding the printed record was needed because of “noise in the House as well as the Minister, at times, speaking so softly she could not be heard”.

The Johannesburg daily reports the Minister telling the NCOP “the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was never designed or aimed to be utilised internally but it should be understood whenever state control and state authority is undermined to the extent it endangers the lives of citizens and destruction of property belonging to citizens it is equally mandated in terms of the law as part of the whole government approach in support of other state departments and in this case, in support of the police.

”The deployment of the SANDF on the Cape Flats is a success in that where other state entities lost access to areas engulfed by violence, the defence force made it possible for them to access these areas as part of their service delivery mandate.

”It must be taken into consideration that stabilising a hostile environment is not an overnight and instant occurrence and the SANDF remains committed to address and perform its mandate within the given task,” she said.

Responding to a follow-up question, Mapisa-Nqakula is reported as answering “the challenges of the Western Cape really, if we may say, have nothing to do with effective or not effective policing. They have everything to do with the socio-economic conditions of people there”.

The deployment of soldiers to support police on the Cape Flats is set for three months with a current finish date of end-September.

Members of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans and the Portfolio Committee on Police are scheduled to be on the Cape Flats today (Wednesday, 28 August) for an oversight visit. The visit will make stops for briefings at the Mitchell’s Plain, Nyanga and Delft police stations and will also hear from Community Policing Forum representatives.

Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier said more than 1 000 people had been arrested since the deployment of the SANDF, with 806 already in the system and wanted for various crimes, including murder, attempted murder, hijacking and theft.