A Democratic Alliance (DA) march on Nyanga police station this week was yet another call for soldiers to be deployed in the fight against crime on the Cape Flats, arguably one of South Africa’s worst crime hotspots.
This, according to reports, is the 14th time in six years Western Cape provincial authorities and the ruling party in the province have asked for military intervention to bring down crime levels. Soldiers have not been deployed in answer to any of these calls.
DA leader Mmusi Mainane allegedly accused former Police Minister Fikile Mbalula of lying when he apparently said the army would be deployed to gang-infested areas by Christmas last year.
“Christmas came and went and there was no sign of the army. Suddenly he (Mbalula) was no longer police minister and his replacement Bheki Cele was telling us there would be no army deployment,” Maimane is reported as having said.
Cele, who replaced Mbalula as police minister when Cyril Ramaphosa became president, told a briefing in Cape Town on Thursday, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) would not be deployed to crime affected areas.
“There are things they can’t tolerate that the police can. If the police look for a suspect, they must rather allow him to escape rather than [fire on bystanders]. The army is not trained in that,” said the minister, as reported by News24.
Military analyst Darren Olivier noted it was “disappointing the DA is again lobbying for the SANDF to be deployed in a policing role without providing answers to the real questions of how many troops would be used and what the exit strategy would be”.
As part on the ongoing national anti-crime initiative Operation Fiela, now in its second iteration, the SANDF has committed to support police during taskings. As with Operation Fiela 1, soldiers are deployed to provide perimeter and back-up security while police execute raids and perform arrests. As far as can be ascertained the military has not been called on to assist police in any taskings for Operation Fiela 11, which started in January and will run until year-end.