Operation Fiela, launched in May initially as an anti-xenophobic initiative but later expanded into an overall anti-crime drive, is still running but now apparently only using police for enforcement.
“In a nation-wide show of force, police pounced on suspected drug dens, shebeens, shops and arrested several people on Thursday as they took the action known as Operation Fiela to all nine provinces of the country,” the official government news agency SAnews reported.
“Law enforcement officials also arrested several motorists and impounded scores of unroadworthy vehicles stopped in a series of road blocks in Pretoria.
“Thursday’s operation involved thousands of police, including metro police and immigration officials who combed the streets of major cities and towns across the country. This followed a decision to roll out Operation Fiela to all parts of South Africa following its success in three provinces.
“The operation had up until now been mainly applied in Gauteng, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal where it was used to rid the provinces of illegal weapons, drug dens, prostitution rings and other illegal activities.
“Since its inception, a number of people have been arrested for illicit drugs, illegal firearms, assault common and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, among other offences.”
The news agency said the operation will be intensified and expanded in “the coming weeks and months to tackle acts of criminality and act decisively and swiftly to restore law and order”.
No mention of made of any military involvement in the latest Operation Fiela actions. Unconfirmed indications from the SA National Defence Force’s Joint Operations Division are that soldiers are no longer providing support to police in patrols, roadblocks or raids.
President Jacob Zuma authorised the deployment of 338 SANDF members to support police in Operation Fiela. The deployment, valid until June 30, was first made public by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula during a visit to Alexandra. Earlier this month there were indications an extension to the military involvement was under consideration, but no statement from either the Presidency or the Defence Ministry was forthcoming to this effect.