Just on a month ago Police Minister Fikile Mbalula launched Operation Fiela II aimed at “rooting out criminals and shutting down crime hotspots” with at least 10 government departments and agencies, including the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) involved.
As of this week it appears the operation has not taken off with reliable sources in the defence force saying there has to date not been any call for soldiers to provide support services to police deployed on Op Fiela taskings.
The lack of involvement of soldiers to date was explained by SA Police Service, operational services relations section head, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo. He told defenceWeb “the SANDF forms part of the NatJoints as it has always been during policing of operations and events”.
“During these times, the SANDF has almost always provided logistical support and will continue to do so at the request of NatJoints.”
This is different to the first iteration of the operation in 2015. That was launched in the wake of a number of xenophobic incidents in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and saw soldiers, mainly infantry, deployed to provide perimeter security while police raided suspect areas and premises. There was no logistic support provided by the SANDF during the execution of raids although a C-130BZ was tasked and on standby to assist with moving manpower and material if needed.
In addition to the SA Police Service, as the lead government agency, Operation Fiela II will also see the SANDF, SA Revenue Services, various metro police departments, the National Prosecuting Authority and the departments of Home Affairs, Labour, Agriculture, Justice and Correctional Services as well as “other institutions mandated to enforce the law” active in crime combatting.
The police minister said at the launch the success of Fiela II would be dependent on the ability of government at all three levels – national, provincial and local – to work together.
Fiela II comes after a Cabinet decision to reinforce the National Development Plan (NDP) on building safer communities. It will run for 12 months before being reviewed by Cabinet.
Earlier this week National Police Commissioner General Khehla John Sitole visited Cape Town where he said the SANDF will make an appearance, but only as part of normal police operations. “They will be providing support through Operation Fiela and you will see them in action,” he is quoted by Eyewitness News as saying.