SANDF soldiers. File photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
SANDF soldiers. File photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Malema under fire over comments on deployment of SANDF to quell unrest in Gauteng and KZN

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Jul 12, 2021

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EFF leader Julius Malema is under attack for calling for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) not to be deployed in hotspots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Malema threatened on Twitter that the EFF would join the large number of people who have taken to the streets in the name of former president Jacob Zuma, looting businesses and vandalising property, if the SANDF was deployed to quell the unrest.

Many have criticised Malema for being opportunistic.

“No soldiers on our streets! Otherwise, we are joining. All fighters must be ready ... they won’t kill us all. We need a political solution to a political problem, not soldiers #NoToSoldiers,” tweeted Malema.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said they disagreed with Malema.

“There must be law and order in this country. It can never be that few people are trying to keep the whole country hostage. If Malema and his party decided to join the looters, then the law enforcement agencies must deal with anybody who is breaking the law,” said Bloem.

He said it was clear that the police were doing their best, but they were outnumbered in some areas by the looters.

The DA called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to deploy the SANDF and immediately reconvene Parliament to quell the ongoing violence and looting.

“All party leaders must meet urgently to discuss a way forward and help restore law and order,” said the DA in a statement.

“We cannot afford any more of the dithering and hesitancy that put us in this situation in the first place,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said something was wrong.

“Where is the Police Minister Bheki Cele? Something is not right,” said Holomisa.

Earlier, the SA National Defence Force confirmed that soldiers have been deployed in KwaZulu-Natal in the wake of widespread looting and destruction of property.

“I can confirm that members of the SANDF have been deployed,“ General Mafi Mgobozi said.

He said the SANDF has commenced with pre-deployment processes and procedures in line with a request for assistance received from the National Joint Operational and to assist law enforcement agencies deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Their deployment was to quell the unrest that has gripped both provinces in the last few days. The duration and number of deploying soldiers will be determined based on the assessment of the situation on the ground by the relevant law enforcement agencies.

Mgobozi said it must be emphasised that the SANDF`s deployment objective was to provide safety and a safe working environment for members of the South African Police Service and other law enforcement agencies whilst they carry out their Constitutionally mandated law and order duties.

Hundreds of shops and businesses across KZN and Gauteng have been looted at the weekend. Videos continue to circulate on social media showing people breaking into shopping centres and making off with clothing, food and other items.

So far, police have arrested 219 people for looting.

NatJOINTS spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said deployment has been intensified across hotspots in both provinces.

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