Military women to the fore


August is Women’s Month and the national defence force had ample opportunity to put its women front and centre, with operational duties underway in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.

The duties are part of the latest round of Operation Prosper activations in the wake of violent civil unrest while the Western Cape activation was prompted – in part – by ongoing taxi violence. The ongoing border protection tasking Operation Corona was also part and parcel of putting women in uniform at the forefront of military activities.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) made full use of its social media presence to “tell the people” what and where its women, alongside those in blue police fatigues, did in August, decreed by government as Women’s Month.

Among the postings was one on a Gauteng operation in Tembisa and Rabie Ridge, with a large female contingent named Operation Basadi (Sesotho for female) as with others, where orders were stop and search with roadworthiness checks a priority. Similar taskings were completed in various parts of KwaZulu-Natal, hardest hit by the civil unrest that claimed more than 300 lives and caused damage estimated at billions of Rands.

The Basadi tasking in KwaHlabisa was, according to the SANDF, “to show the world women are capable of holding leadership roles in their respective organisations”.

It wasn’t all front line visibility, with Joint Operations headquarters, south of Thaba Tshwane, providing self-defence lessons. This, the SANDF said, was in response to the call by Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa. He said GBV (gender-based violence) was the second pandemic in South Africa and the Joint Ops effort gave women staffers the knowledge and some of the skills needed to fight perpetrators “when faced with this pandemic”.