SANDF’s anti-illegal mining and national key point protection deployments extended

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SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa has deemed it fit to extend the deployment of just over three thousand military personnel internally to support police efforts to curb illegal mining as well as keep Eskom power stations safe.

The further utilisation of military personnel is authorised by way of Presidential missives published on 15 May to Acting National Assembly (NA) Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, at national administration level. At departmental level it is executed by the standing Operation Prosper through the SANDF Joint Operations Division to the SANDF and Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV).

The SANDF’s initial anti-illegal mining deployment ended on 25 April with a 15 May Presidential letter authorising its extension for a further six months to end on 31 October. In it Ramaphosa writes “members of the SANDF employed will, in co-operation with the SAPS (SA Police Service), continue to prevent and combat illegal mining activities in and around the Republic of South Africa under Operation Prosper over the period 29 April to 31 October 2024”.

Two thousand three hundred members of the SANDF will be used to support police apprehending illegal miners and confiscating their equipment, ranging from picks and shovels through to high-end multi-ton side-loading tipper trucks and TLBs (tractor/loader backhoes). Expected expenditure through to end October is pegged at R349 million, Ramaphosa wrote.

The Eskom deployment will see 746 uniformed SANDF personnel working alongside Eskom security personnel and police “for the prevention and combating of crime and maintenance and preservation of law and order in the Republic of South Africa under Operation Prosper [at] Eskom power stations”.

This deployment is stated as “protecting and safeguarding national key points and infrastructure in the energy sector (Eskom power stations)” between 1 April 2024 and 31 March 2025.

The cost of the Eskom safeguarding employment is expected to amount to R203 million.