Parliamentary defence committee approves Op Fiela at last


Just short of two months into Operation Fiela, the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) has adopted a letter informing Parliament of the SANDF internal deployment to combat xenophobia and maintain law and order.

The Presidential instruction to deploy soldiers in support of police is effective from April 21 to June 30 and was given to Parliament within the specified seven day time frame by SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma.

A JSCD statement, issued last week, indicates the committee approves the deployment of soldiers “in a joint effort to maintain law and order in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and any other area in the Republic”.

The JSCD has also “resolved” to call Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, or the Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, to brief the committee on the deployment “as well as the work already done”.

The current instruction for the deployment of 338 soldiers to assist police ends next Tuesday (June 30) and at the time of publication there was no indication from The Presidency whether it will be extended. Putting soldiers onto the streets of South Africa for this operation will, according to The Presidency, cost R4 242 448.

The SANDF indicated the deployment instruction would see a single combat ready company (in all probability an infantry company) consisting of three platoons and a headquarters, an SA Military Health Services task team, a Military Police section and a helicopter (type not specified) working with police to combat various crimes. Additionally, a 28 Squadron C-130BZ aircraft will be on standby at AFB Waterkloof for the duration of the deployment to assist if and when needed.

SANDF Joint Operations said it would not disclose which unit or units were going to be used for Operation Fiela.

The operation has gone country-wide with arrests being made in Northern and Western Cape, Free State as well as KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the provinces first targeted. The first two weeks of the operation saw just on 900 arrests made and the total number of arrests most recently made public is 4,000.