President Cyril Ramaphosa defended the deployment of the army to areas in Cape Town hit hard by gang violence. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Parliament - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday defended the deployment of the army to areas in Cape Town hit hard by gang violence which has claimed dozens of lives over the past few weeks.

Responding to the debate on his budget vote, Ramaphosa said SA National Defence Force (SANDF) force deployment to help with targeted police operations during previous operations has yielded positive results.

"The SANDF members will be deployed to support the police to restore law and order in communities that are being terrorised by gangsterism. We need to save lives," the president insisted.

He was responding to criticism that soldiers are trained to shoot to kill and had no place in policing operations. 

The president said any trepidation should be allayed by the fact that the defence force did not have the same mandate it had pre-democracy.

"Let us be clear that the SANDF is not the defence force of old. It's not an apartheid-type defence force," he said.

"The defence of old was the defence force that went into our townships and used our young people as targets for shooting. This is the defence force of a democratic South Africa, a defence force that has been involved in peace-keeping operations in various parts of the continent and which has played a critical role in supporting the South African police in various crime-fighting operations."

African News Agency (ANA)