Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Cape Town: Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise says she has told a sitting of the National Assembly that there is a need to consider deploying a special “intermediary force” that will be trained and equipped to deal with domestic violence and unrest situations.

Modise said this when the National Assembly considered reports of the joint standing committee on oversight visits to review military deployments as part of “Operation Prosper” in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng on Tuesday.

She said this after various MPs pointed to the fact that the Defence Force is trained to deal with combat operations abroad, and not to do police work.

“We are asking that we also take time to re-look at the structures. At some point we wanted to suggest to this Parliament that you actually need an intermediary force, a force that is between the soldiers and the police, a force that is just right to deploy in these situations that we have just experienced and it would not be a unique force. France has a force like that.

“So I want to say that hopefully, the deployment of the soldiers helped. Hopefully, we will be able to gather enough to prevent,” she said.

Modise said this after the SA National Defence Force deployed 25 000 boots on the ground in some parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to support police following incidents of violence and looting six weeks ago.

“What we do need to do, is to accept that over the years, especially in Defence, because that is the environment I know better than the police, we have not invested enough in capacity in the defence force and that those decreases have rendered us to where we are today, where we are caught off guard.

“I am not excusing the fact that defence intelligence could have played a role, honourable [Bheki] Cele, to advise. I am in no way saying the Ministers knew or did not know. I was not there.”

Modise said the security cluster must always be on top of its game.

“But what I do know is that the security cluster must always be on top of their game to make sure that we do not get these stones that are coming into the cluster that we do what we need to do, not to deploy the police and the soldiers but to protect [the] lives and property of South Africans.

“So on that note, we can promise that we can try and do our best.

“We in Defence will make sure that we give that support. We in Defence will make sure that we re-look at our capacity.”