South Africa: 25 000 more soldiers requested to quell unrest
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has said that the South African Government is looking to deploy 25 000 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to help quell unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and other hotspots. A further deployment of SANDF members to areas affected by the ongoing violent attacks in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal was being considered by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week. Mapisa-Nqakula told the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) on Wednesday night that President Ramaphosa was not happy with the initial number of 2 500 soldiers deployed and suggested 10 000 members be deployed. “Too little, too late?”, Fire and Rescue International.
The first deployment included more than 1 000 soldiers in KwaZulu-Natal at present and around 800 in Durban. Initially soldiers were taking over ‘guard duty’ from the Police, of key areas such airports and oil depots but now they are protecting malls and other locations.
Darren Olivier, defence expert and director at African Defence Review, noted that not all the 25 000 SANDF members to be deployed will be ground troops, with some portion in support roles but it still marks the SANDF’s biggest deployment since 1994. “Reaching this number means reaching to the very back of the cupboard and taking everything that can move, no matter the cost or sustainability. It leaves nothing in reserve and halts all other SANDF duties and commitments. It’s a reflection of just how desperate things are,” he noted.
That, to quote Afric Olivier, “the cupboard is empty” in response to the announcement of a 25 000 strong soldier deployment was further emphasised by a call for all SA Army Reserves to report at “first light” on Thursday, 15 July 2021. The call, in the form of a two-sentence media statement, was issued by the Senior Staff Officer, Corporate Communications of the landward force, Colonel Sammy Mosiano.
Under the heading, “Urgent! Immediate reporting to units” the statement reads, “As directed by Chief of the SA Army, Lieutenant General Lawrence Khulekani Mbatha all Reserve Members are to report for duty at First Light tomorrow morning, 15 July 2021, at their respective units. The members to report ready with their necessary equipment”.
Olivier notes this is the first all hands call-up for Army Reserves since the 1994 election.
Following meetings which, among others, saw President Cyril Ramaphosa meet political leaders in efforts to find a solution of some sort to the current spate of looting, rioting and violence concentrated on Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) met virtually to hear Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and national defence force officers explain the hows whats, wheres and whys of the massive military deployment.
There was, at the time of publishing, no indication of any possible deployment of South African soldiers to Mozambique as part of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) rapid deployment force (RDF) as a precursor to a regional bloc multi-national brigade. Some reports had it the South African contingent of the RDF would go to Mozambique today (Thursday) but no confirmation is forthcoming from either South Africa’s Department of Defence (DoD) or the regional grouping.
Source: Defence Web