The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) started pre-deployment activity in line with a request for assistance from the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) to assist law enforcement in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal in quelling rioting and violence, apparently in response to Jacob Zuma starting a prison sentence for contempt of court.
“The duration and number of deploying soldiers will be determined by an assessment of the situation on the ground by relevant law enforcement agencies. Further, it must be emphasised the SANDF deployment objective is to provide safety and a safe working environment for police and other law enforcement agencies while they carry out constitutionally mandated law and order duties. SANDF deployment-related information updates will follow in due course.”
The deployment will likely be under the existing Operation Prosper internal operation, and will see soldiers assisting the SA Police Service and other law enforcement entities, including metro police.
KwaZulu-Natal was first gripped by sporadic unrest on Friday with incidents of looting and vandalism which later spread to Gauteng.
Police Ministry spokeswoman Lirandzu Themba said law enforcement agencies nationally arrested 219 since unrest startedt, 96 in Gauteng and 123 in KwaZulu-Natal . Dozens of trucks were burnt and at least seven people killed.
Major General Mathapelo Peters, Head: Corporate Communication and Liaison at SA Police Service National Head Office, said in the statement police in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are on high alert “in response to opportunistic criminality and violent protests”.
He reports KwaZulu-Natal police overnight dispersed crowds and foiled attempts to barricade roads adding NatJoints is “working around the clock to enhance operational capacity at provincial level in response to incidents in which people appear to be undermining the authority of the State, including the flouting of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) regulations”.
Speaking on television on Sunday evening, Cyril Ramaphosa said rioting and violence affected key infrastructure, destroyed property and saw people intimidated, threatened and “even hurt”. This was concerning as it appeared some of the violence was “based on ethnic mobilisation”.
“This must be condemned by all South Africans at all costs as we are a nation committed to non-racialism and non-tribalism underpinned by the diversity and unity of all the people of South Africa, whatever their language, culture, religious beliefs and race.
“Our commitment to our democratic Constitution is based on the fundamental principle that all people are equal before the law and all people have the right to equal protection before the law,” he told viewers.