Defence Minister wants rethink on soldiers supporting police policies


Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has seemingly joined the list of politicians asking for soldiers to be deployed as part of crime fighting efforts.

She reportedly called for a review of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) policies to ensure soldiers assist police in dealing with crime. This was after shots were fired outside the NY49 stadium in Gugulethu during the funeral service for former SANDF Inspector General, Major General Mxolisi Petane at the weekend.

According to IOL, shots were fired while Mapisa-Nqakula was at the podium addressing mourners.
“About a hundred metres away from here there is shooting by criminals. As we are sitting here we have heard gunshots from this direction, you can rest assured it is from Philippi or Nyanga,” she is reported as saying.
“There is no respect I think in such instances, really there is a way we can reinforce. It is time for us to review the policy. We can’t be held ransom by criminals.
“Today we have an SANDF which stands for peace and has a duty to protect, but what can we do to provide support the police will need, we need to review our policies,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
“We have seen so many people dying and that is not the freedom we fought for. That is not the South Africa we wanted where criminals wreak havoc, where criminals kill their own mothers, where criminals rape their own grandmothers.”

Going back five years Western Cape premier Helen Zille called on President Jacob Zuma to deploy “the army” to deal with violence on the Cape Flats. Her call was in the form of a letter requesting soldiers be made available to assist with the prevention and combatting of crime as well as maintaining law and order in the Lavender Hill and Hanover Park suburbs, two areas then hard-hit by crime.

Her request was not responded to.

In 2015 soldiers were deployed to support police during the national anti-xenophobia tasking, Operation Fiela. Soldiers provided a second line of defence with police in the vanguard following a number of xenophobic incidents and killings starting in KwaZulu-Natal and spreading to Gauteng.

This year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) by the President also saw soldiers deployed in support of police at Parliament. A Presidency statement at the time said the SANDF “employment is for service in co-operation with the SA Police Service (SAPS) to maintain law and order for the opening of Parliament where the President will deliver the SONA”.

Petane was given a full military funeral on Saturday. Mapisa-Nqakula said he was “a true son of the soil, a principled patriot, a dedicated professional, a freedom fighter, an unsung hero, a quiet, humble, dignified and compassionate comrade and friend”.

Petane, then retired, died from natural causes at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba-Tshwane in Pretoria on 21 September. He joined the African National Congress’ military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1976 became part of the South African National Defence Force post-democracy.

Petane “occupied the highest echelons of command within the SANDF and was instrumental in inculcating a culture of clean corporate governance and adherence to strict audit processes within the organisation as Inspector General Department of Defence,” the SANDF said. This was “a position he held and acquitted himself with distinction in from January 2005 until his honourable retirement on 31 March 2017.”