Cape Town 2014-11-25 Soldiers parole the Buffeljagbaai area and Pearly Beach Picture Ayanda Ndamane story Bianca

Raphael Wolf

THE army has been deployed in the war on perlemoen poaching, assisting fisheries officials in Buffeljagsbaai and Pearly Beach near Hawston.

Soldiers were spotted patrolling poaching hot spots in Buffeljagsbaai and Hawston in military vehicles in the company of fisheries officials with departmental vehicles.

In response to a Cape Times query about what the army was doing in the areas, who they were assisting and who deployed them there, chief joint operations officer Lieutenant-General Derrick Mgwebi said: “We have a responsibility to protect the maritime resources of South Africa.

“We do this in co-operation with the SAPS, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, communities and others involved.

“If a government department is looking for assistance and support, they tell us what is to be done, and then a plan will be made and the problem addressed.”

Asked about criticism the army should have been deployed in the war on gangs in townships and not by the sea, Mgwebi said deployments were determined by the Provincial Joint Operations and Intelligence Centre.

“We in the military are not the ones to decide where to go. Ours is to support any government department which requests our assistance and support.

“In this instance, we went by invitation of the (Fisheries) department.”

Lionel Adendorf, spokesman for the department, said that besides the SANDF, they also established partnerships with coastal communities, police, metro police, other law enforcement and conservation agencies such as SANParks, and with provincial and local traffic authorities.

A self-confessed poacher who wouldn’t be named said: “People are going hungry because they are too scared to poach while the army is around.”

Comment from President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, had not been received by deadline.