The current “employment” – to use President Cyril Ramaphosa’s word – of the military is for lockdown regulation enforcement, humanitarian aid and crime combatting with specific mention of “instability affecting the road freight industry”.
This is contained in a briefing to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) on Thursday 18 February.
The briefing aimed to bring parliamentarians up to date on the state of Operation Ligcolo, the name assigned by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to its deployment of 2 122 military personnel for the month of February. This was as per a pair of Presidential Minutes with the first authoring a similar number deployed from 29 December to 31 January.
The presentation has it the operationally deployed strength was 1 210 of the authorised two thousand plus. They are deployed in the “humanitarian and law enforcement domains”.
Humanitarian relief deployments include port health support and scanning, screening and testing teams. Military health service personnel are working four identified port of entry hotspots at Beit Bridge (Zimbabwe), Lebombo (Mozambique), Maseru Bridge and Ficksburg (both Lesotho).
Soldiers are supporting police at identified hotspots in five provinces – Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Western Province.
The deployment has an air support component with the SA Air Force (SAAF) tasked to supply a C-208 Caravan and two rotary-winged aircraft one an Oryx and the other an Agusta A109. This component of Ligcolo has to date delivered food supplies to flood-hit Northern Cape.
Another component of the deployment is a pair of heavy duty recovery teams, read tow trucks with major towing capacity. The vehicles were deployed at Beit Bridge to clear road congestion “saving lives” according to the presentation which states estimated expenditure for February as R65 090 486.