Western Cape Reserve Force unit General Jan Smuts Regiment was deployed a week ago with “beach patrols” on the Garden Route and general anti-crime ops as taskings until at least month-end.
The call for soldiers to assist police in enforcing national state of disaster regulations was made by Police Minister Bheki Cele after he visited Western Cape and Garden Route holiday towns and resorts.
In addition to the 57 beaches from Mossel Bay to George closed by government in its ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, part-time soldiers are also supporting police in general anti-crime operations in parts of the Cape Town metropole according to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) corporate communications director, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi.
Police support is not a new tasking for the SA Army.
In addition to a late 2019/early 2020 response to a police appeal for assistance to fight gang-related crime on the Cape Flats, soldiers on national state of disaster duty (Operation Notlela) assisted police in general crime fighting and prevention efforts during the national lockdown, now in its 291st day. This saw, among others, soldiers supporting police in stopping mob justice being executed in the volatile Bushbuckridge area of Mpumalanga. The Cape Flats anti-crime deployment was codenamed Operation Lockdown, some four months before the word lockdown became an almost integral component of daily life in South Africa.
The General Jan Smuts Regiment is a battalion strength Reserve Force unit previously known as Regiment Westelike Provinsie. It, along with 51 other Reserve Force units, underwent name changes in August 2019 as part of an effort to more broadly reflect South Africa’s diverse military history.