Soldiers are going to be deployed within weeks in beleaguered Cape Town where Day Zero for water supply looms ever larger on the horizon.
This was confirmed during a SA Police Service (SAPS) briefing to Western Cape premier Helen Zille and again today when the City of Cape Town said it would be activating its Disaster Operations Centre (DOC). This will be the nerve centre from where the metro will execute its water disaster plan.
The Cape Town deployment is the second internal SA National Defence Force (SANDF) deployment to be made public within a week.
Last Tuesday, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula launched Operation Fiela II, a year-long operation aimed at “rooting out criminals and shutting down crime hotspots”. At least 10 government departments and agencies, including the SANDF, will be part of this operation, to be reviewed after 12 months.
SA Police Service Major General Khombinkosi Jula presented a security briefing on the Western Cape water crisis to Zille last week. According to the Western Cape provincial government the strategy includes “deployment of forces at points of distribution (POD) across the metro, regular patrols, escorting water resources to critical points where necessary and 24 hour monitoring of crime hotspots”.
A statement from Zille’s office has it that the provincial Cabinet was briefed on how “the SANDF, military police, law enforcements and traffic officers will provide additional support”.
A statement issued at the weekend by the City of Cape Town said it activates its DOC today (Monday) with Richard Bosman, Executive Director: Safety and Security “permanently seconded as DOC incident commander”.
According to the statement SAPS and the SANDF have confirmed their assistance to secure water collection points. “The deployment will include inner perimeter security as well as out perimeter security. There will be static deployments as well as rotational vehicle patrols.”
At the time of publication the SANDF had not given any indication of either the number of personnel or vehicles to be utilised in support of orderly collection of water in Cape Town.
Similarly, there has as yet been no indication of numbers to be deployed in support of police on Operation Fiela II but unofficial indications are it would be along similar lines to the first Fiela, a government response to xenophobic attacks that started in KwaZulu-Natal and then spread to other provinces, including Gauteng and Western Cape, in 2015. Mainly infantry elements were deployed to provide perimeter security for police undertaking raids on suspect areas and premises.