Sisulu still to approve border deployments

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Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu says she must still approve the details of next month’s return of the South African National Defence Force to the country’s borders.

She Friday said at a media briefing on the planned activities this year of Cabinet’s International Cooperation Trade & Security cluster that an “initial engagement” with the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans last month was a “sharing of thought.”

Now-Acting Secretary for Defence and Chief of Joint Operations Lt General Themba Matanzima told MPs the SANDF would deploy four companies and two engineer troops from April 1 along the Zimbabwe and Mozambican borders. The latter would be repairing and maintaining the NABOB fence along stretches of both borders. The deployment would be expanded up to 14 companies along the Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swazi and Lesotho borders in four years if funds were made available for that purpose.

But Sisulu Friday continued that the “deployment and possibilities it had not been cleared with me…” She added “it will be presented to me and I will apply my mind and when we take a final decision it will back with portfolio committee we will probably do this in month of March because we have to be out by the border in the first of April.”

Sisulu noted the Parliamentary briefing was “actually meant to be a thinking through the strategy of the defence force as to how we intend to deploy on the border was essentially meant to be an in house conversation … because these are matters that we don’t like to have in the public domain.”

Asked about the military’s return to the Lesotho border, where stock theft is rife, she said “we should also be careful what it is that we telling criminals that are prone to use those routes so this is a matter we would like deal with as sensitively as possible, but I was informed by Minister of Police that the farmers association would like to have a meeting with myself I am therefore urgently preparing to meet with them; and I will indicate to them … very directly … what steps we are taking to ensure that we can secure their border and stock from cross border raids which are common in the Lesotho border.
“In our approach in dealing with the borders we have taken a “phase-in” approach starting almost immediately … in April and stretching over two to four years… we have put our strategy in line with our assessment together with the police and national intelligence of what the threats are so the phase-in … is what was provided to the portfolio committee and it will take the priority as worked out in the assessment of the threat.”

Pic: Workers repairing part of the NABOB fence along the Zimbabwe border in this file photograph.

BORDER SECURITY 2010



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