Soldiers have not yet been called to assist police and other government departments and agencies in the year-long Operation Fiela II anti-crime tasking.
In January then Police minister Fikile Mbalula said there would be a 12 month national operation aimed “at rooting out criminals and shutting down crime hotspots”.
At least 10 government departments and agencies, including the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), would be involved.
The lack of military involvement was explained by SA Police Service, operational services relations section head, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo. He said the national defence force was part of NatJoints as it has always been during policing operations and major events.
“The SANDF has almost always provided logistical support and will continue to do so at the request of NatJoints,” he said earlier this year.
The first iteration of Fiela in 2015 saw soldiers deployed as perimeter security ensuring police could carry out tasks including building searches and raids without fear of being attacked. In 2015 the SANDF, in the form of the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) 28 Squadron, tasked a C-130BZ for the operation. It was on standby to assist within moving both manpower and materiel if and when needed.
This time around, if SAPS media statements are to be judged by, on-the-ground taskings for Operation Fiela II have been by and large provincial ones.
The latest SAPS statement on Fiela II comes from Limpopo and reads: “Strategies to effectively fight various categories of crime in this province through the ongoing Joint Operation Fiela II are still making impressive strides. These operations up and running until this morning (June 25), saw 456 suspects aged between 20 and 53 arrested for various offences.”
Provincial police liaison officer, Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe, said the operations “were focussed on all crime infested areas” in the country’s northernmost province. Police in vehicles and on foot manned roadblocks carried out stop and searches, patrols as well as tracedg wanted suspects.
In addition to the SA Police Service, as the lead government agency, Operation Fiela II can call on 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.