Speaking in Alexandra, Johannesburg, yesterday Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the army had been deployed to the area adding soldiers would also be deployed to assist police in KwaZulu-Natal.
She was reported as saying the deployment of soldiers did not mean the army was taking over from police by SAnews.
“We are claiming back the authority of the state,” she said.
Her words come in the wake of a strongly-worded statement issued on behalf of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Military Command.
“It is clear the prevailing situation must be condemned in no uncertain terms. The Military Command of the SANDF wants to send a very strong message to those involved in these acts of violence and other criminal activities to desist.
“The Military Command wants to assure both the people of South Africa and foreign nationals the SANDF will not stand by and watch while innocent lives are being threatened. The SANDF will provide the necessary support to the SAPS, whenever and wherever SAPS deems it necessary,” the statement issued by Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said.
At the time of publication no information had been made public about either the units of number of soldiers deployed but if the modus operandi employed during the 2008 army deployment, also following xenophobic attacks, is used soldiers will provide a cordon sanitaire. This will enable police to go into specific areas and buildings, such as hostels, to conduct thorough searches without having to worry about securing the perimeter of the area they are working in.
Mapisa-Nqakula did not divulge the number of soldiers called in to help police saying it was an operational matter.
A former SA Defence Force conscript pointed out he was a white soldier deployed to Alex in 1985.
“How the wheel turns. Thirty years later, almost to the day, black troops will again be there doing more of what we did back then.”