SANDF anti-xenophobia deployment to cost more than R4 million

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President Jacob Zuma, Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), has authorised the deployment of 338 soldiers at a cost of R4.2 million to assist police in halting the current surge of xenophobic violence.

The deployment will, according to the Presidency, last until June 30. The announcement was made late on Friday, ahead of the Freedom Day long weekend, and is in accordance with the Constitution as regards informing Parliament of any SANDF deployment inside the country’s borders. Soldiers were last deployed internally in 2008 when xenophobic violence wracked the country.

Defence Corporate Communications had not, at the time of publication, issued any information as to which units are being utilised for the anti-xenophobia deployment nor had it given any details as to specific taskings undertaken by soldiers since the deployment started a week ago.

Announcing the deployment at the Alexandra police station last week, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said soldiers would assist the police to reclaim the streets following an eruption of xenophobic violence in Durban at the end of March. The violence subsequently spread to Johannesburg.

Mapisa-Nqakula said police had requested support and would lead the operation aimed at bringing order back to hotspots where violence had disrupted normal living.

She was quoted as saying: “The army will be deployed because there is a crisis”.

As far as can be ascertained soldiers have to date provided perimeter protection for police searching hostels in Jeppe and Alexandra in Johannesburg. Soldiers were also seen taking part in stop and search patrols in a number of Johannesburg inner-city suburbs, including Hillbrow, the CBD and Mayfair. All three are known to be home to foreigners.