Shutdown: Ramaphosa turns to soldiers

SANDF and police vehicles stationed at Marianhill toll plaza in KwaZulu-Natal as they prepare for the EFF national shutdown. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

SANDF and police vehicles stationed at Marianhill toll plaza in KwaZulu-Natal as they prepare for the EFF national shutdown. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 20, 2023


Cape Town - Thousands of soldiers were already on the ground at the weekend protecting national key points, including the Cape Town International Airport, ahead of the anticipated EFF national shutdown on Monday.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo confirmed they had been informed by President Cyril Ramaphosa about the deployment of 3 474 soldiers, effective from last Friday until April 17, 2023.

The government was expected to spend more than R166 million on the deployment, in cooperation with police, under Operation Prosper for the prevention and combating of crime and preservation of law and order.

“The President’s letter will be brought to the attention of the members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces through Parliament’s official papers, the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC),” said Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Parliament and the Provincial Legislature are also among the strategic points in the Western Cape that were closely monitored ahead of the marches.

The EFF is calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s resignation and an end to rolling blackouts, among other demands.

Party president Julius Malema has urged his members to go out in their droves across the country, without fear.

He said anyone who committed violence would be reported to law enforcement agencies. During an address on Friday, Malema told party members that all main roads including the M1 and the M2 would be closed.

He said bridges across the country would have banners and placards calling for Ramaphosa to step down from the presidency. He promised the protests would be peaceful, but EFF members would respond if provoked by the police.

Briefing the media on Sunday at the provincial joint operational and intelligence structure (ProvJoints), Western Cape police commissioner Thembisile Patekile said the integrated law enforcement forces included Metro Police with law enforcement officials from different municipalities, traffic services and a contingent of private security officials on the ground.

“As part of the ProvJoints operational plan, police officials on foot, horseback, in vehicles and on motorbikes, with air support at strategic positions are on hand to respond promptly and accordingly to incidents of lawlessness. The deployments will be enhanced utilising integrated CCTV camera systems as well as other cutting-edge technology.

“Social media users are warned against posting and disseminating inflammatory content contained in videos and messages that seek to incite violence and spread falsehoods.

Law enforcement officials will without hesitation invoke relevant legislation (Section 14 of the Cybercrimes Act and Section 18H of the Films and Publications Act) in relation to inappropriate social media posts,” said Patekile.

He said lessons had been learned from past protests and as such “minimal force” would be used when required.

On Friday the City was granted an interdict against any attempts to incite or participate in looting, vandalism, intimidation and disruption as part of the protest.

The City's interdict application in the Western Cape High Court aimed to ensure that the organisers and participants stay within the confines of the law and permit them to march to the National Parliament Buildings to hand over a memorandum.

Community Safety and Police Oversight MEC Reagen Allen said within 72 hours law enforcement officers had confiscated 4 041 tyres in various communities.

“These are tyres that would have been burned on the roads and used as obstructions. Removing them prevents clean-up and damage expenses for the City and province,” he said.

Safety and security Mayco Member JP Smith said under the court interdict and within the context, even the placement of such tyres could now be considered incitement.

“Any person found to be transporting and ‘dumping’ such tyres is considered to be in contempt of court and must be arrested. Any vehicle used in the transport of such tyres will be considered as being used in commission of crime and will be likewise impounded.”

Western Cape provincial Community Police Forum (CPF) board chairperson Fransina Lukas said they were ready to work with the police to ensure that there was no chaos or anarchy.

“Our volunteers are ready and well trained about the law. We encourage members of the community to only observe and not confront or stop protests, but instead report any illegal actions they see.”

*Additional reporting Mashudu Sadike

Cape Times