The utilisation of soldiers in support of police anti-crime operations on the Cape Flats was set to finish at the end of March. Indications are soldiers from 10 SA Infantry Battalion are still deployed but now as part of the national state of disaster.
Without confirmation from the corporate communications directorate of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) or the Joint Operations Division, defenceWeb sources report Western Cape provincial joint operations as saying soldiers will remain in nine areas of the Cape Flats apparently until the end of June. The source said soldiers are “now on lockdown duty, not to be confused with their original deployment, Operation Lockdown. That was the anti-crime support tasking and must not be confused with the current national lockdown called by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the national effort to hopefully halt the spread of coronavirus”.
An SA Army Infantry Formation warning order issued before the national coronavirus lockdown points out the Mafikeng-based 10 SAI battalion is short staffed due to Op Corona and Op Lockdown commitments. Zeerust-based 2 SA Infantry Battalion and the SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) in Potchefstroom will, in all probability, augment 10 SAI. Another potential personnel source is 10 Artillery Regiment, according to the order.
Kobus Marais, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister, pointed out the current deployment of the military for the national lockdown is effective until the end of June.
“This is in line with an SANDF call for private sector healthcare practitioners to register for the Reserve Force,” he said, adding he “sincerely hoped any extended lockdown would be a narrowly focussed one, concentrating on where the coronavirus threat is worst”.
“The national economy needs to be unlocked as soon as possible because I suspect post-lockdown will last for months, again necessitating the utilisation of the security forces, in one way or another.”